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LONDON – The British Film Institute has fallen victim to a 10 percent cut in funding for 2015-16 as part of the British government’s move to cut spending across all departments.
The funding cut was handed down by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The BFI has reacted with consternation and some surprise, noting the cut comes on the back of previous reductions amounting to 18 percent over the last two years.
In the last two years, the BFI also has absorbed the activities of the dissolved U.K. Film Council.
“As a national cultural body which is also the catalyst for the growth of the film industry, we are shocked that film has not been protected alongside the U.K.’s other national arts bodies and museums,” the BFI said in a statement. “This is even more surprising given the Government and industry’s endorsement of the BFI’s five-year strategic plan for film, launched less than a year ago [October 2012].”
The BFI notes that the government secretary of state’s (Maria Miller) statement on the DCMS website recognizes the “huge contribution” made by the organizations she is protecting with a 5 percent cut.
“But her decision not to include the BFI fails to acknowledge film’s multibillion-pound [dollar] contribution to the economy, and instead puts film in the position of effectively subsidizing other arts organizations,” the BFI said.
The BFI also argues that while the tax credit system in place for the movies, TV and gaming industries is to be applauded, there should be no reduction in investment in film support.
“This is extremely disappointing and worrying for the film sector and audiences at a point where it is clear to those in and out of government that film is playing an active and significant role in the U.K.’s economic recovery and is a vital contributor to our cultural life and international profile,” the BFI said.
The movie organization said that because of the 10 percent cut in funding, it can no longer consider expanding its activities.
“We are in urgent discussions with the minister with a set of proposals to mitigate some of the impact of these cuts. If these proposals aren’t achievable then the BFI will have no choice but to stop valuable frontline activities and reduce support for partner organizations.”
The DCMS letter says its budget will reduce by $94 million (£62 million) in real terms in 2015-16, a 7 percent reduction to the resource budget. In addition, there will be a 5 percent reduction to the core capital budget.
In real terms, the BFI is looking at a cut of approximately $3.8 million (£2.5 million) if using 2013 as a base year.
During 2013, the BFI’s total resource cash allocation is projected to be $34.6 million (£22.8 million) from the soon-to-cut grant in aid only and including $1.5 million (£1 million) for its film academy and $6.1 million (£4 million) earmarked for Northern Ireland.
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