Monday, 2 August 2010

Au Revoir, les Film Council.

Last week the coalition government's department for Culture, Media and Sport announced plans to axe the UK Film Council.
Sam Taylor-Wood's 'Nowhere Boy'
Launched by the former Labour government in 2000, the non-profit organisation independently selects film projects eligible for funding and has certainly been a much needed help for struggling film makers. It has poured £160m into more than 900 films since its inauguration and fought hard in having a greater number of films shown in more theatres across the country. It has garnered much commercial success with films such as Gosford Park and Bend It Like Beckham along with others, and has stimulated, both fiscally and creatively, a new wave of British film growth. The UKFC's dedication to unearthing new and important talent cannot be denied, what with such critically acclaimed productions as Hunger and The Wind That Shakes The Barley - films which almost certainly could not have been made without state backing.
While not all films that applied for grants received funding and the UKFC by no means gave film makers 'an easy ride,' what it did provide was a central, independent organisation dealing with the dispensation of public funding in this area. The majority of arguments for the axing of the UKFC have been largely anti-Quango, citing them as bureaucratic and a waste of money, yet the UKFC has streamlined a process that - before its creation - had no clear operating system and less regulation too. The UK box office, which now contributes over £4.5 billion a year to UK GDP, has grown by 62% since the UK Film Council was created, and in 2008 UK film exports exceeded £1.3 billion. It is irrefutable that with the loss of the film council the UK film industry will directly suffer.

This comes as yet another blow to British cinema, after the BFI was informed in June of the delaying of its new £166m film centre on London's South Bank which was due to open in 2015. Many voices within the arts have spoken against the closure of the UK Film Council - a decision which comes with the additional news that many more cuts be made to arts funding, and many more culls to such cultural organisations made. The Tate and the Arts Council have both publicly warned of their fears, stating that museums will have to cancel exhibitions and theatres will go dark. Mike Leigh was left 'reeling' by the decision and Roger Michell said in a blog with the Spectator that it was 'a very disturbing hint at what lies ahead for those of us who work in film and in the arts in general.'
With all the furore surrounding this, and also the recent cuts to the health care and school systems, the coalition government's decision begs the question - what is next in the clamp down on public spending and what - if anything - is our arguably unelected government actually paying for...?
Armando Iannucci's 'In The Loop'

To find out how the cuts are specifically affecting you and your area, go to -


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