Written by David Lewis on Aug 21, 2009. Posted in On Location

Merger proposed for flagship film bodies

Plans to merge the UK Film Council (UKFC) and the British Film Institute (BFI) into a single body to support film could benefit both the filmgoing public and the industry, Film Minister Siôn Simon has stated.

An organisation with both a cultural and economic remit would mean public support for film is better coordinated, with more of the available funding channelled directly to frontline services. A proposed merger, designed to protect the key existing functions of both the BFI and UKFC while reducing gaps and overlaps, is now being considered by Government and industry leaders.

Siôn Simon went on to say: "Film in Britain is highly valued, both for its tremendous contribution to our cultural life and its economic success. Thanks to the work of the UK Film Council, as an industry, it contributes GBP4.3 billion to our economy, with British films taking 15% of the global box office last year. And buoyant attendances show that after more than a century, cinema is still seen as a great night out."

The overall remit of the BFI and UKFC will not be reduced. The proposal is for a streamlined organisation, which can spend more of its money on film and services and less on infrastructure, and in turn offer better support for Britain's film culture and promotion of its film industry. Its remit would span securing investment across the sector, steering the industry through the transition to digital, championing the cultural importance of the UK's film heritage and guaranteeing that the full diversity of film culture is available to all.

Tim Bevan CBE, Chairman of the UK Film Council, said: "I welcome this idea and I'm keen to work closely with the BFI and the DCMS over the autumn to make it happen."

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