This morning Ed Vaizey announced what would happen with the Lottery funds that the UK Film Council (UKFC) used to administrate. Ever since the UKFC got the boot in the summer, everyone has been speculating about where the cash would go. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has come under heavy criticism for abolishing the body without a plan for what to do next, which threw a lot of uncertainty and instability into an already fragile industry.
So today's announcement was heavily anticipated. Many already had predicted the main responsibilities would go to the British Film Institute (BFI), and they weren't wrong.
The main points are:
- The BFI gets £43 million for investment in film, an increase in the total Lottery sum.
- Regional screen agencies are gone, replaced by something called Creative England. (They take over responsibility for video games, too.) There will be three regional hubs as opposed to eight offices.
- Film London stays and gets the responsibility for inward investment in the UK.
- The Certification Unit (which decides how much money foreign film investors get) goes to the BFI.
- The tax credit that keeps American productions in the UK continues.
What does it mean? Well, the BFI are going to have to hire a bunch of people for starters. They are not really set up for distributing funds, so they'll need the right people and probably some bigger offices. What shape exactly Creative England will take is unsure, and of course, for the poor boy in the corner, exhibition, no news. Most likely the few funds that were available will disappear in the handover.
Another missing piece is a coherent digital strategy - what about new technologies for distribution/exhibition? The digital transition? The Digital Screen Network? Watch this space for some answers in the coming days.