BFI response to DCMS merger proposal

The Board of Governors of the British Film Institute welcomes the DCMS initiative to rationalise the funding and governance of the way we support film in Britain, as announced today after a long period of discussion.

The new Film Minister has assured BFI chairman, Greg Dyke, that both the identity and critical cultural mandate of the British Film Institute will be paramount in this process.

Since its formation in 1933, by Royal Charter for the last 26 years, and as a charitable organisation, the BFI has preserved and promoted the nation’s film culture and the current Board of Governors, as custodians of that heritage, welcomes this unique opportunity to embolden and strengthen the organisation.

For more information contact:
Nick Mason Pearson / Claire O’Brien / Brian Robinson
BFI Press Office
Tel 020 7957 4833 / 8993 / 8940
Email
nick.pearson@bfi.org.uk / claire.obrien@bfi.org.uk / brian.robinson@bfi.org.uk

Merger proposed for flagship film bodies | BFI | News

Merger proposed for flagship film bodies | BFI | NewsMerger proposed for flagship film bodies | BFI | News

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Merger: DCMS media release

Merger proposed for flagship film bodies

117/09

20 August 2009

Plans to merge the UK Film Council (UKFC) and the British Film Institute (BFI) into a single body to support film could benefit both the film-going public and the industry, Film Minister Siôn Simon said today.

An organisation with both a cultural and economic remit would mean public support for film is better coordinated, with more of the available funding channelled directly to frontline services. A proposed merger, designed to protect the key existing functions of both the BFI and UKFC while reducing gaps and overlaps, is now being considered by Government and industry leaders.

Siôn Simon said:

“Film in Britain is highly valued, both for its tremendous contribution to our cultural life and its economic success. Thanks to the work of the UK Film Council, as an industry, it contributes £4.3 billion to our economy, with British films taking 15% of the global box office last year. And buoyant attendances show that after more than a century, cinema is still seen as a great night out.

“The BFI is one of our great cultural institutions and cares for the world’s most significant archive of film and television. With audiences growing year by year, the BFI has proven the enormous public appetite for film heritage and world cinema in Britain.

“Supporting film to help the UK industry reach its international potential as an art form as well as a business remains a priority for Government. That’s why we want to look at how best to direct our support. A new, streamlined single body that represents the whole of the film sector will offer a better service both for film makers and film lovers.

“There are practical issues which we need to resolve to ensure that this proposed merger brings about the benefits we want without impacting on the work currently done by the BFI and UKFC. DCMS will now work closely with both BFI and the UKFC to deliver a better service for film.”

The overall remit of the BFI and UKFC will not be reduced. The proposal is for a streamlined organisation, which can spend more of its money on film and services and less on infrastructure, and in turn offer better support for Britain’s film culture and promotion of its film industry. Its remit would span securing investment across the sector, steering the industry through the transition to digital, championing the cultural importance of the UK’s film heritage and guaranteeing that the full diversity of film culture is available to all.

Tim Bevan CBE, Chairman of the UK Film Council, said:

“I welcome this idea and I’m keen to work closely with the BFI and the DCMS over the autumn to make it happen.

“The UK Film Council is a success story, but the truth is that when we were set up in 2000 a kind of artificial separation occurred – on the one hand the UKFC, which supports film and the film industry; on the other the BFI, which celebrates film culture and cares for our film heritage. And in my opinion it can’t be right for them to remain disconnected.

“The second reason I want to try to make this work is completely practical. We know that the climate for public funding is going to get much tougher, and it’s therefore sensible that we ask ourselves why there are two publicly funded film organisations in the UK. We need to look at the scope for savings across the board, to push as much money as we can into new film activity.”

Greg Dyke, Chair of the BFI, said:

“We view this as an opportunity to build on the strengths and successes of our work in recent years.

“The BFI is in good shape and having a very successful year, but we welcome this move if it enables us to further develop our potential to provide a better service to the public. The BFI is a much cherished organisation and has a vital and leading role to play in developing film culture and heritage in this country.

“We look forward to working with DCMS and the UK Film Council over the coming months to explore this opportunity.”

A project board, chaired by DCMS and with equal representatives from the BFI and UKFC will now look at the proposal to develop a possible new model and governance structure. While it is expected that the creation of a new body for film, with a clear line of accountability and a single Board would mean efficiency savings, the primary objective is to improve the service to film, by reducing gaps in provision and areas where activity is currently duplicated by the two bodies. The project board will consider the practical and legal issues that would need to be resolved before such a merger could take place. It is expected to complete this analysis before the end of the year.

Notes to Editors

  1. British Film institute
    • The British Film Institute (BFI) has existed since 1933 as the nation’s cultural organisation for film.
    • It is an independent body with charitable status and Royal Charter.
    • It cares for the BFI National Archive and Library.
    • Activities include:
      • BFI Southbank and BFI Imax;
        BFI Education;
      • Sight & Sound magazine;
      • BFI Film Distribution;
      • BFI DVDs;
      • books;
      • BFI London Film Festival;
      • London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
    • The turnover of the BFI is £38 million, of which £16 million comes from Government as grant-in-aid.

  2. UK Film Council
    • Since its creation in 2000 the UK Film Council has backed more than 900 films, shorts and features, which have won 299 awards and entertained more than 200 million people around the world.
    • Its support develops new filmmakers, funds exciting new British films and gets a wider choice of films to audiences throughout the UK. It also invests in training British talent, promoting Britain as an international filmmaking location and raising the profile of British films abroad. In addition, it funds the British Film Institute.
    • Films backed by the UK Film Council include Bend it like Beckham, The Constant Gardener, Gosford Park, Happy-Go-Lucky, In The Loop, Man on Wire, Red Road, St Trinian’s, This is England, Touching the Void, Vera Drake and The Wind that Shakes the Barley.
    • Current UK Film Council funding initiatives include:
      • the world’s first Digital Screen Network, which has invested in 240 digital screens in cinemas across the country, increasing film choice, bringing the 3D experience to a wider audience, and ensuring the UK has more digital screens than any other European country;
      • over 200 film societies and independent regional film venues;
      • UK film festivals, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival and the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival;
      • Skillset, the UK skills and training industry body for the creative industries;
      • First Light Movies, which has given 12,000 children and young people the chance to get involved in filmmaking; and
      • FILMCLUB, an after school club which gives children in 7000 schools free weekly access to classic and popular films.

Merger update

Merger is not a “done deal”, says BFI’s Dyke

21 August, 2009 | By Geoffrey Macnab

The proposed merger between the UK Film Council and the British Film Institute (BFI) will not go ahead unless the BFI’s brand and core activities are protected, according to BFI chairman Greg Dyke

Speaking to ScreenDaily, he said that the merger was not a done deal. “[The board] sees this as an investigation into whether there are advantages to doing it.

“We have got our own royal charter. We are a charitable organisation. We can’t be steamrollered. The reason we’re doing it is that we think there might be some real upside.”

The proposed merger, which was announced by Film Minister Sion Simon yesterday (August 20), has polarised the industry.

Christine Langan, creative director of BBC Films, said: “This won’t be easy but it does have a driving logic to it.”

Echoing remarks made yesterday by new UKFC Chairman Tim Bevan, she added that having one organisation will “simplify the message” when it comes to dealing with government and will also have “an economic and cultural benefit”.

“The BFI has been less relevant than it should be. There is no reason why it should be a dusty adjunct at one remove.”

But many in the industry believe that the BFI should retain full autonomy. Director-producer Don Boyd said: “The BFI should have an independent autonomous voice and should have the money to extend its great heritage. The Film Council is essentially a government department with a governing Council appointed as such.”

He added that aside from helping with funding issues for the BFI, the merger “would seem to have little merit”.

However, John Woodward, chief executive of the UK Film Council, said the benefits of having a single fiilm industry body were “pretty obvious” but that it is key that the work of both organisations is protected.

“Tim and Greg have explained very accurately what the potential prize is here for everyone in film, and if it can be done well then we have the best chance of protecting film and the film industry from most of the pain that’s heading in the direction of all publicly funded bodies in the next few years.

“It will now take some time for us all to dig into the detail and come up with the best structure for safeguarding the integrity of both the UKFC and BFI – and those detailed discussions haven’t even started yet.”

The proposed merger follows five years of staff cuts, down to 400 from 530, and a freeze on funding at the BFI. There has been frustration within the Institute that it currently receives its grant-in-aid of £16 million via the Film Council rather than directly through the DCMS.

The BFI has driven up its self-generated income in recent years and estimates that it will earn around $36.4m (£22m) this year from its various activities including IMAX cinema, BFI Southbank and the London Film Festival.

Merger is not a “done deal”, says BFI’s Dyke | News | Screen

Plans to merge BFI and UKFC

UKFC and BFI merger proposed

20 August, 2009 | By Screen staff

The UK Film Council (UKFC) and the British Film Institute (BFI) are to be merged under plans announced by Film Minister Siôn Simon today (August 20).

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and key industry figures, including new UKFC chairman Tim Bevan, are now considering plans to create a single body that will take on the cultural and economic remit of both organisations.

A Working Group, chaired by the DCMS with equal representation from the two bodies, is now being set up to consider how a single body would be structured and how to improve its service to film by reducing gaps and overlapping. It is expected to report back by the end of the year.

It is hoped that a streamlined body would be freed up to spend more of its funding on films and frontline services and less on infrastructure, and that this in turn, would help it to better support the British film and promotion of the industry.

Simon said that the merger aims to protect the key functions of the UKFC and BFI. The new organisation’s remit would include securing investment, leading the industry through the transition to digital, championing the culture importance of the UK’s film heritage and guaranteeing the full diversity of film culture is available to everyone.

Simon added: “Supporting film to help the UK industry reach it international potential as an art form as well as a business remains as a priority for Government. That’s why we want to look at how best to direct our support. A new, streamlined body that represents the whole of the film sector will offer a better service for both film-makers and film-lovers.”

Tim Bevan, the new chairman of the UKFC, welcomed the idea and said he was keen to work closely with the BFI and DCMS over the autumn to make it happen.

He added: “We know that the climate for public funding is going to get much tougher, and it’s therefore sensible that we ask ourselves why there are two publicly funded film organisations in the UK. We need to look at the scope for savings across the board, to push as much money as we can into new film activity.”

BFI chair Greg Dyke also welcomed the move and added it was an opportunity for the body to “build on the strengths and success of our work in recent years.”

UKFC and BFI merger proposed | News | Screen