Colin MacCabe on UKFC

From Screen Daily today:

Colin MacCabe calls for BFI to handle industry statistics

18 December, 2009 | By Geoffrey Macnab

Outspoken British academic and film producer Colin MacCabe has called for the British Film Institute (BFI) to take over the research and statistics work currently carried out by the UK Film Council.

In a wide-ranging article published this week in current affairs magazine Prospect, MacCabe argues that the statistics compiled by UKFC “reflect rather too well on the Council”. In particular, he has challenged the claim made in this year’s UKFC Statistical Yearbook that UK films accounted for 15% of the global box office.

“No breakdown of this figure was given, making it impossible to distinguish between Hollwyood studio pictures made in this country, like the Harry Potter films, and those films actually made by British independents,” he writes. “No government can make policy on such misleading statistics.”

MacCabe, who headed the BFI Production Board from 1985 to 1989, argues that there is “still no sign of a sustainable British film industry” today, almost 10 years after the UKFC was formed in 2000. Calling the UKFC “a New Labour folly,” he also questions the effectiveness of its training and distribution policies and attacks its spending record.

A UKFC spokesperson and chairman Tim Bevan declined to comment on the article.

The UKFC and BFI are in ongoing discussions about a possible merger, which aims to streamline the organisations to refocus their resources. Entirely separate to those merger discussions, a consultation on the UKFC’s proposed new three year plan runs until 9 February.

Once the public consultation closes, UKFC will collate all the views and comments and produce a final three year plan, which should be publsihed in late March and which will take effect from 1 April 2010.

Colin MacCabe calls for BFI to handle industry statistics | News | Screen

Link to Prospect magazine article:

Breaking the British movie myth « Prospect Magazine

Labour’s plans to rationalise culture

From the Guardian online 9 December 2009:

What does the pre-budget report mean for culture?

Culture department quangos and advisory committees are to be streamlined, promises Darling

The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, has already announced cuts to arm’s length bodies – or quangos – in order to reduce bureaucratic costs. But in the pre-budget report he promised that a review, to be completed by the 2010 budget, will identify further options for “rationalisation” of such bodies.

Darling singled out the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, saying that the government would consider “options for rationalising up to a third of DCMS non-museum arm’s length bodies, including streamlining 10 DCMS advisory bodies and bringing forward plans for merging the UK Film Council and the British Film Institute”. What does that mean in practice? The merging of the BFI and the UK Film Council has already been announced (if not wholeheartedly welcomed in the film world). The Film Council is also losing 20% of its staff – albeit, according to its chief executive John Woodward, in order to counteract the loss of lottery funds to the Olympics rather than as a response to “smarter government” initiatives.

Meanwhile, the other major non-museum arm’s length body, Arts Council England, is near to completing a massive organisational review, which will see 21% of its workforce gone and £6.5m in savings that will be rediverted directly to the arts – a kind of pre-emptive strike, if you like.

If one takes one’s speculative cue from the Government’s plans for the UK Film Council and BFI, it is those arm’s length bodies (which also include English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Sport England and UK Sport) that are seen to overlap or duplicate functions that could be required to share resources or even merge under the review. (The Conservatives have already said they would like to see a merged English Heritage and Heritage Lottery Fund.)

The advisory bodies in line to be “streamlined” include the Theatres Trust, the Advisory Council on Libraries and the Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection. All this would be designed protect frontline services – though critics claim that such mergers and rationalisations could create more problems than are solved.

Footnote: the DCMS website contains a full list of its arm’s length bodies (though, remember Darling’s excluding museums) and advisory bodies.

What does the pre-budget report mean for culture? | Culture |