BFI awards over £15.2m to 11 UK-wide Strategic Partners

1st February, 2023

BFI awards £15.2M National Lottery funding over three years to 11 UK-wide strategic partners as it begins to implement its recently published 10-Year National Lottery Funding Strategy from April 2023. The partnerships will enable the BFI to grow the activity it supports UK-wide, building on frameworks and networks established since 2012. This ‘good cause’ National Lottery funding aims to grow cinema audiences for UK independent and international film, support development of new filmmaking talent and ignite a passion for screen culture in young people.

Pivotal in delivering one of the BFI’s core principles of being UK-wide, the BFI will work with key partners across the four nations to ensure its National Lottery funding effectively responds to the varying needs of the public and industry in different parts of the country. It will see many funding decisions devolved or taken collaboratively, and activity tailored by those on the ground who understand their local landscape, have valuable community networks, and can best reach people in their local area.

Partners selected and funded to lead on activity across the UK are:

Harriet Finney
, Deputy CEO of the BFI, said:

Our partners are fundamental to the successful delivery of our ambitious National Lottery Strategy across the UK. We are very much looking forward to working with the venues and organisations announced today to ensure the BFI Film Audience Network, BFI NETWORK and BFI Film Academy Plus programmes evolve and grow to meet the changing needs of our sector. Driven by our belief everyone should have access to screen culture – from experiencing a diverse range of films in cinemas through to creating original screen works and a chance to forge careers – we are supporting these fantastic partners so they can bring those opportunities to local communities and people of all backgrounds, across the whole of the UK.

Access to a rich variety of screen culture inspires and informs our future filmmakers and creatives. The funding decisions announced today enable our partners to deliver three distinct but interconnected areas of work. These organisations will provide highly visible cultural hubs that are largely based out of independent cinemas and film venues across the UK. Crucially, the funded partners will make audience and talent development opportunities accessible to audiences, young people and aspiring filmmakers across their respective regions or nations.

Continuing to support this UK-wide structure also responds to a consistent message heard throughout the extensive consultation with public and industry undertaken to develop the strategy: that every part of the country has a different set of needs, opportunities and challenges around screen culture, and local organisations are best placed to respond to these. Further UK-wide partners will be announced in the coming weeks, as recipients of National Lottery funding to support skills and education activity which will complement this work. Alongside BFI FAN, support of the exhibition and distribution sector is available via the BFI National Lottery Audience Projects Fund which is currently open for applications.

The £15.2m announced today aims to address a number of primary objectives of the BFI’s National Lottery Strategy. These include seeking to:

A collaboration of eight leading venues or film organisations representing the UK nations and regions, the BFI Film Audience Network supports a stronger and more connected approach to growing audiences for UK and international film on the big screen. FAN has over 1,700 members comprising cinemas, festivals, mixed-arts venues, community cinema and film archives, which can access training, funding, programming support and network opportunities.

BFI NETWORK exists to support, develop and champion new and emerging filmmakers across the UK. Working with partners, NETWORK has an on-the-ground presence in every UK nation and region, led by BFI NETWORK Talent Execs, to connect with and deliver support to new and emerging filmmakers. BFI NETWORK offers funding for short films and first feature development, as well as a range of professional development support to writers, directors and producers.

BFI Film Academy Plus, the newly named UK-wide in-venue education offer, helps connect 16-25 year olds with opportunities to pursue their love of screen culture and learn how to set about a career in the industry. Funding will enable venues across the UK to provide locally tailored support packages such as masterclasses, screenings and bursaries, helping them to learn more about the film industry, watch cultural cinema, become familiar with their local venues and develop skills as independent filmmakers, film curators or film industry new entrants.

The BFI National Lottery Funding Strategy aims to build a diverse and accessible screen culture that benefits all of society and contributes to a prosperous UK economy. At its heart are three core principles: equity, diversity and inclusion, so everyone can develop a meaningful relationship with screen culture, regardless of their background or circumstances; UK-wide, so that everyone across the four nations of the UK should be able to experience and create the widest range of moving image storytelling; and environmental sustainability, from reducing the BFI’s own carbon emissions to supporting wider industry efforts to get to net zero and address biodiversity loss.