Olympic funding heralds latest angst for Brit film

Industry fears shift in lottery funds

The creative industries here are facing down a funding crisis following a government statement that puts the budget for the 2012 London Olympics at just north of £9 billion ($17.4 billion), up almost fourfold from the £2.4 billion cost projected less than two years ago (HR 3/16).

The ballooning cost of the Olympics was revealed by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, who informed members of parliament of the scale of the hike and the plan to pay for some of the rise with cash redirected from other lottery-funded cultural bodies.

Jowell said that the government's contribution has risen to £6 billion ($11.6 billion), adding that the rest will be met from London's council taxpayers and the National Lottery.

The U.K. Film Council was first to react Thursday, hoping to head off blind panic from a film industry battered by a slew of tough tax changes that have created an uncertain investment climate.

A spokesperson for the council said the organization is confident that — despite plans that would see £7.5 million ($14.5 million) cut from its budget over the next five years — it will be able to continue to support such industry activities as production and P&A support funds.

"Today's announcement by the secretary of state did not come as a big surprise to us, and indeed all lottery distributors have been expecting to contribute toward the costs of the Olympics," a statement from the U.K. Film Council said. "We are confident that all U.K. Film Council lottery-funded activity from April 2007 to March 2010 ... will remain unaffected by today's announcement."

But observers did warn that come 2010, the film council will begin feeling the funding bite. A council insider said that the organization is unlikely to feel the pinch during the next three years because of its reserves and recoupment positions on successful movies that are beginning to trickle in.