Following 13 months of extensive consultation with the UK film industry, government and public, the British Film Institute has unveiled a new three-year funding plan alongside a ten-year strategy that will shape the organisation’s future investments and priorities.
Screen Culture 2033 was launched at a virtual event on Friday with BFI chief executive Ben Roberts saying the initiative would transform how people interact with the BFI and create skills and jobs across the UK. Crucially, the BFI adopts a new three-year National Lottery funding plan that starts in April 2023 and will see the organization invest £136 million ($150 million) in the business, or £45 million ($49 million) annually. This is a decrease of around 10% compared to the last funding plan, BFI2022.
Of these funds, £54m ($59 million) will be available to filmmakers through the BFI National Lottery Filmmaking Fund, the BFI Network and The National Lottery Creative Challenge Fund, a new funding arm established to support what the BFI has described as “risk-taking creative storytelling.”
Historically, BFI National Lottery funding has focused primarily on film. But Screen Culture 2033 signals a shift, with the body pledging to “monitor and assess” the role it can play in funding new forms of media, including television, video games and interactive and immersive technologies.
“Most of us experience or contribute to screen culture – through film, television, online video, augmented reality and video games – in our daily lives. It informs and defines us and continues to grow as an art form and a creative industry,” said Roberts “Screen culture does not stand still, and neither do we.”
In a bid to extend the body’s reach, £27.6 million will be spent on audience development schemes, including a BFI National Lottery Audience Project Fund to support the work of distributors and exhibitors working across independent film and XR as well as funding for a new BFI National Lottery Open Cinemas initiative aimed at offering free screenings in independent cinemas.
Audiences will be key to what Screen Culture 2033 describes as the BFI’s long-term “digital first” approach, which will culminate in creating a tiered BFI membership that will include Sight and Sound, BFI Southbank, BFI IMAX and BFI+, a new revamped streaming service to be launched from BFI Player. The BFI will seek to finance the streaming service through a significant one-off investment.
In addition, the BFI said it will step up its push to promote the use of film and moving images in classrooms with a £34.2m investment across education and skills programmes.
BFI chairman Tim Richards said: “As a cultural charity, a distributor of National Lottery ‘good cause’ funding, we see the societal benefits of screen culture and the vital contribution it makes to the UK economy.
He added: “The ambitions we set out in Screen Culture 2033 – which will take the BFI to its 100th anniversary – and the BFI National Lottery Strategy aim to expand opportunities for creators, audiences, educators and the industry to ensure screen culture is produced and consumed in the UK truly reflects our vibrant and diverse population. Our role in creating the right conditions for economic growth and cultural development and appreciation of British screen culture throughout our past, present and for the future has never been more important.”