BFI proposal for a new film era in the UK

From the BFI website today:

BFI proposal for a new film era in the UK

16 Dec 2010

We have announced measures to help us prepare for a new era for film in the UK, following the decision made by the Department for Culture Media and Sport to make the BFI the UK’s lead body for film. The proposals include an ambitious digital modernisation strategy, making the delivery of our services more efficient and a plan to grow income and increased free public access to the BFI Collections.

This is the critical first step for the BFI, as we adapt to a changed financial environment and position the organisation as the lead body for film in the UK. In this first phase, we are prioritising those activities that are core to the BFI, that are unique and that audiences most value.

Central to the strategy is continued investment in digital capability that will provide greater public access to the BFI’s film and knowledge collections and improved reach of its public programmes.

The BFI will build on its revenue-earning successes with a package of initiatives that includes a new Membership drive, introducing advertising opportunities onscreen and online, as well as an ambitious sponsorship and fundraising campaign. Additionally, brand new business opportunities are being developed to take advantage of the BFI’s expertise, skills and knowledge, through international partnerships and new digital business models.

The BFI’s long-standing, ambitious and successful drive to engage with more and different people is at the heart of a decision to relocate the BFI Library to BFI Southbank, where it can be tied more closely to growing audiences, the delivery of the cultural and education programmes and to the BFI Mediatheque. For dedicated researchers, a bespoke facility will be created at the BFI National Archive where the collections are physically held. A pioneering digital-on-demand service is also planned at BFI Southbank that will allow desktop delivery of the Collections. Over time, the ambition is to offer similar services at BFI Mediatheques around the UK.

These changes are being proposed against a backdrop of a 15% cut in our grant-in-aid over the next four years, successive years of zero increases in grant-in-aid funding and rising utilities and pension costs, which have created a widening gap in our budget. These new measures allow efficiencies, stimulate additional revenue and help us further reduce our reliance on public funding. Nevertheless, we anticipate the proposals will lead to a net reduction in our workforce of around 37 posts.

Amanda Nevill, Director of the BFI, said:

“It is imperative the BFI builds on its successes and remains commercially astute in this tough new environment. We have an incredible opportunity in the months and years ahead to create something very special for film in the UK and these proposals are both bold and necessary.”

In tandem, we are also making ourselves ready for the transition of responsibilities from the UK Film Council and further structural changes may be made following the due diligence period. Early in the new year, we will advertise to recruit new Governing Board members to guide us through the transition period and beyond. At the same time, an outline transition timetable will be published.

At the core of the proposals are:

1) A plan to bring greater coherence to the cultural programme across the whole of the BFI, a move which will also reduce costs and create more incentives for fundraising and philanthropy. A new post of Director of BFI Public Programmes will lead a unified team of programmers across cinemas, festivals, distribution, digital and print.

2) An aim to further increase the number of people across the UK and internationally who can engage with the BFI’s public programme and film culture. Digital technologies will play a critical part in this and the BFI proposes renewing infrastructure and investing in new skills.

3) Closure of the BFI Gallery at BFI Southbank as part of the prioritisation on those activities that only the BFI can deliver.

4) A proposal to move the BFI Library and reading room from its current location and create new facilities at BFI Southbank in the space currently used for the BFI Gallery.

5) Establishing a bespoke research centre for academics, the film industry and researchers in the heart of the BFI National Archive at Berkhamsted.

6) A stringent review of procurement processes to achieve economies; reducing overheads by making savings in support costs; boosting new business through the development of commercial opportunities both within the UK and internationally; a drive to increase fundraising income and philanthropy.

The proposals are subject to a period of staff consultation as a number of posts will be put at risk of redundancy from the end of January 2011. If accepted, the proposals will start taking effect from April 2011.

BFI proposal for a new film era in the UK | British Film Institute