Creative Europe's $2 Billion Cash Pool Opens for U.K.

BFI - Greg Dyke and Amanda Neville
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BFI chair Greg Dyke and BFI director Amanda Neville attend the festival's pre-opening gala dinner at Asia de Cuba on Oct. 13

The European Commission's funding program will see the BFI and British Council partner to administer the British share of Eurozone largesse.

LONDON – Creative Europe, the European Commission’s seven-year funding program for the cultural and creative sectors, launches in the U.K. on Jan. 28, armed with a bank guarantee cash pool and a $2 billion (€1.46 billion) budget over seven years. The body came into force on Jan. 1 and combines the European Commission’s existing culture and MEDIA Programs.

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Part of its remit is to support the distribution of over 1,000 European films in 2,500 cinemas and also features a new bank guarantee, the Cultural and Creative Sectors Guarantee Fund, which is set to be introduced in 2016.

The fund is worth $165 million (€121 million) and will see Creative Europe underwrite bank loans to creative businesses, aiming to help "unlock private finance to support the continued growth of the creative industries and to educate the financial sector about the benefits of backing creativity."

Creative Europe will be delivered in the U.K. through a wide-ranging partnership between the British Film Institute and the British Council. It is a new information and advice service to promote Creative Europe on British shores, replacing the former MEDIA Desk U.K. and Antennae and the U.K. Cultural Contact Point.

Creative Europe Desk U.K., under the joint leadership of the BFI and British Council, brings together partners including Arts Council England, Arts Council Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen, Creative Scotland and Arts Council Wales and the Welsh Government, and will see the establishment of a dedicated information office in each of the U.K.’s nations and in one of the English regions outside of London. 

The U.K. audio-visual sector benefited from funding worth just over $137 milllion (€100 million) through the MEDIA program, which ran until 2013. Around $68 million (€50 million) supported British companies directly, including banners such as Ruby Films (Saving Mr. Banks), Ken Loach's Sixteen Films and Jeremy Thomas's Recorded Pictures, distributors, cinemas, training courses, markets and festivals.

The other $68 million (€50 million) supported the cinema releases of British films across Europe, with examples including $2 million for the Meryl Streep-starrer The Iron Lady, $1.77 million (€1.3 million) for the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and $1.4 million (€1 million) for The King’s Speech, featuring an Oscar-winning turn by Colin Firth.

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For the Culture Program, 273 U.K. organizations were involved in 344 projects, receiving almost €128 million in total.

Michel Magnier, director for culture and creativity at the European Commission, said: "U.K. filmmakers, artists and cultural professionals deservedly enjoy recognition from audiences and peers worldwide, and U.K. cultural organizations are sought-after partners in creative European collaborations -- bringing expertise and inspiration, while challenging assumptions and the status quo."

Magnier cited "filmmakers who are cherished across the continent and indeed the world," listing Mike Leigh, Loach, Stephen Frears and Clio Barnard "to mention just a few." He added: "I am excited to see how Creative Europe can play its role in supporting these vibrant sectors and help to inspire fruitful partnerships and collaboration with professionals across the rest of Europe and beyond."

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill said: "We're excited to enter into this new partnership with the British Council to help ensure that entrepreneurial professionals across the U.K. can access and benefit from support through Creative Europe, to help U.K. film, culture and creativity continue to thrive."

Graham Sheffield, director of arts at the British Council, said: "We [at the British Council] share the European Commission’s view that international exchange and collaboration in the arts and the creative industries supports the prosperity of the sector, while promoting understanding between cultures. As well as providing advice and support to organizations in the U.K., we will be able to use our global network of offices to help broker effective European and international partnerships."