£1.8m awarded to support film exhibition and talent development in the South East

The Independent Cinema Office has been reappointed as Lead Organisation for Film Hub South East, with £1.8m National Lottery funding awarded to help nurture the region's screen sector.

The Independent Cinema Office are delighted that we are one of 11 UK-wide strategic partners to whom BFI has awarded a total of £15.2 million of National Lottery funding across the next three years as it begins to implement its recently published 10-year National Lottery Funding Strategy from April 2023.

£1.8m has been awarded to the South East of England over the next three years to continue to support three important areas of work: Film Hub South East (£401,725 per year) – to support film exhibitors, BFI NETWORK South East (£159,569 per year) to develop filmmaking talent and BFI Film Academy Plus (£57,100 per year) to empower 16 to 25-year-olds to develop in the film industry. This funding covers the delivery of the activity as well as funds that will be allocated to organisations in the region through funding opportunities.

Reappointed as the Film Hub Lead Organisation for the BFI Film Audience Network in the region, we will continue to deliver the activity of Film Hub South East. We will build on our work with film exhibitors of all types across the region to build new audiences for independent and British films, supporting them with funding opportunities as well as training, programming support and networking opportunities. We will also have an opportunity to make more of a strategic intervention in particular regions in the South East that currently have little cultural cinema infrastructure.

Our BFI NETWORK South East team will continue to nurture the professional development of the extraordinary filmmaking talent in the region, build a confident, diverse creative community of directors, writers and producers and allocate National Lottery funding to film productions.

The newly named BFI Film Academy Plus will see us continue our activity established in the successful Young Film Programmers Network South East in building and sustaining young people’s passion for screen culture as well as broadening the work to develop routes for young people to express themselves through filmmaking and develop careers in the sector.

Young film programmers from the South East at a BFI Film Academy event, December 2022. Credit: Uche Odoh

We will also be delivering significant UK-wide FAN activity, details of which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Announcing the funding, 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.”

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

  • empower children and young people to develop their own relationship with a wider range of screen culture – as viewers, creators or as part of the future workforce
  • ensure people across the UK can access a wider choice of film and the moving image, including stories that authentically reflect their lives
  • tackle a range of social, economic and geographical barriers for UK audiences
  • support the exhibition workforce so venues are better equipped to thrive in an increasingly challenging marketplace
  • open up opportunities to those who want to express their creativity through stories on screen and support and nurture their careers
  • encourage innovation and back a wide range of stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told
  • open up equitable and more visible routes into the sector.

Director of the Independent Cinema Office, Catharine Des Forges said:

“We’re really looking forward to another three years in this vibrant region working with inspiring exhibition partners through the Film Hub, developing the careers of the region’s extraordinary filmmakers through BFI NETWORK, and engaging the fantastic young people who will lead and develop screen culture in the decades ahead through BFI Film Academy Plus. The objectives of the BFI National Lottery Strategy resonate deeply with our values and objectives at the ICO and we’re looking forward to helping nurture a more equitable, professional, sustainable and creatively inspiring screen sector.”

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 (including over 231 members in the South East) comprising cinemas, festivals, mixed-arts venues, community cinema and film archives, which can access training, funding, programming support and network opportunities.

By continuing to support this UK-wide structure, this also responds to a consistent message heard from the public and industry through the extensive consultation undertaken to develop the strategy: that every part of the UK has a different set of needs, opportunities and challenges around screen culture, and local organisations are best placed to respond to these.

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.

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 objectives of the BFI National Lottery Strategy resonate deeply with our values and objectives at the ICO and we’re looking forward to helping nurture a more equitable, professional, sustainable and creatively inspiring screen sector.”

Catharine Des Forges, Director of the Independent Cinema Office

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Please note, this list is primarily for people working or volunteering in cinema and film exhibition in the South East region.

If you are a filmmaker in the South East, join the BFI NETWORK South East Newsletter.

If you are a young person aged 16-25, join the Young Film Network South East Newsletter.

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