BFI Film Center plans scrapped

Government pulls plug on $67 million project

LONDON -- The U.K. government has pulled the plug on £45 million ($67 million) plans for the British Film Institute (BFI) Film Center here in the British capital and has also shelved plans for the £2.5 million ($3.7 million) BFI archive digital access project.

In an attempt at a silver lining to the cloud of cuts announced Thursday by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the freshly anointed government said it would still fund the building of a film store to safeguard the National Film Archive.

The Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport minister Jeremy Hunt said the cuts are part of wide-ranging plans to help reduce the fiscal deficit here.

"We are facing an unprecedented financial situation in this country, and it is essential that we act now to reduce the country's debt," Hunt said.

He said his department looked at a slew of plans with value for money and affordability in mind.

"This has involved some incredibly difficult decisions, but the cultural and sporting worlds, like everyone else, urgently need the country's finances to be returned to a sustainable position," he said.

Creative Industries minister Ed Vaizey also said the government plans to "fundamentally reassess how the Government supports film in this country" while admitting it simply could not commit to large scale capital investment projects such as the BFI Film Center.

"I want to make sure that we are supporting the film industry so that it is ready for the challenges it will face in the decade to come, and that we make sure every pound of public money we spend gives the maximum benefit," Vaizey said.

The reassessment will take account of the impact of Government financial support for film including National Lottery funding as well as the impact of film tax relief.