Programming Group

The Film Hub South East Programming Group aims to build and support a group of cinemas committed to growing audiences for a broader range of cultural film throughout the region.

We all want to see big audiences for a wider range of cinema – British independents, foreign language films, documentaries, archive films, artists’ cinema and more – but the fact is that growing audiences for these kind of films is a long-term audience development project, not something that happens overnight. When budgets are tight, it’s hard to prioritise the long term and also hard to make the right decisions for your audience.

That’s where Film Hub South East’s Programming Group comes in. We want to build a committed group of cinemas aiming to grow audiences for cultural cinema. This is designed to help you develop audiences in your region for a broader range of films than you currently show. To help you grow these audiences, we will subsidise your costs on selected titles and give you expert help and support.

We want these twelve cinemas to be leaders in their region for this kind of cinema. We especially want to work with cinemas where there is low provision of cultural cinema locally.

The initial Programming Group was formed in 2018 following our first call for applications. Applications are now open for new participants.  Please read the guidelines here and apply via our proposal form.

How does it work?

  • Participating cinemas will be presented with a list of films every two months, from which they must select two to include in their programme – one per month.
  • We expect participating cinemas to use the scheme to develop and diversify their programmes and audiences. There must be an ambition to show films that the cinema would not ordinarily show. Each list of films will have a range of titles to accommodate cinemas with programming at different stages of development.
  • The minimum guarantee (up to £100) for the film will be covered by the scheme to remove some of the financial risk for participants.
  • Participating cinemas will be invited to a meeting in the region or in London, every two months, to discuss forthcoming titles with the Film Hub South East Programming team. At these meetings, known as Programming Days, there will also be opportunities for cinemas to take part in workshops and special events, meet with relevant distributors and access further information to inform their programming. Scroll down for upcoming dates.
  • Participating cinemas will be offered a place and travel & accommodation bursaries at each of the ICO’s main Screening Days events, which take place three times a year, to enable early previewing of films that are considered for programming through this scheme.

What are the benefits of joining the Programming Group?

  • Subsidised minimum guarantees on one title a month
  • Marketing materials to help you grow audiences for these films
  • Meetings across the region every two months featuring industry experts, screenings and opportunities to share knowledge, known as Programming Days (see upcoming dates below)
  • Tailored programming guidance based on your current programming
  • Travel to meetings paid for by Film Hub South East
  • One three-day pass for three ICO Screening Days each year, as well as travel & accommodation bursaries to attend ICO Screening Days
  • Access to a monthly programming email from Film Hub South East; with suggestions for upcoming titles, their audience profiles and comparison titles.

The next group meeting (Programming Days) is:

  • Monday 9 March 2020 @ BFI Southbank, London

The morning sessions are open only to Programming Group members, but all FHSE member exhibitors are eligible to attend the afternoon sessions (comprising lunch, a talk from an expert speaker and a preview film screening).

Click here to see dates currently open for FHSE member registration and here to join our mailing list to stay updated on new events.

What are the criteria for applying?

With this scheme, we want to make the maximum impact on increasing audiences for cultural cinema. With that in mind, participants must:

  • Be DCI-compliant (i.e. screen films from DCP rather than disc)
  • Host at least 300 screenings per year
  • Be willing to demonstrate commitment by attending all meetings with one regular staff contact
  • Be able to host one of the meetings in your venue
  • Be one of the following: a not-for profit cinema; a cinema in a mixed arts venue; a privately-owned independent cinema; a privately-owned cinema within a small (fewer than six sites) cinema chain.

Organisations must be members of Film Hub South East to participate in the Programming Group. Read more about becoming a member.

If you have any questions about the Programming Group scheme after reading the FAQs (below) and the guidelines, please contact us via or 0207 636 7120.


What is the BFI Film Audience Network?

The BFI Film Audience Network (or FAN) was originally set up in 2012, using funds from the National Lottery, to support a stronger and more connected approach to growing audiences for British and international film on the big screen.  It divided film exhibition activity in the UK into regions, each led by a regional Film Hub.

From 2017, FAN is part of the BFI’s five-year plan BFI2022 and central to BFI2022’s commitment to give everyone, everywhere in the UK the opportunity to enjoy and learn from the richest and most diverse range of great British and international filmmaking, past, present and future.

The priorities for FAN under BFI2022 are to:

  • Increase access to a wide range of independent British and international film for audiences – especially those outside London;
  • Extend engagement with BFI supported activities across the UK and enhance the quality and cultural depth of audience experience;
  • Increase access to the UK’s screen heritage especially via the BFI’s National Film and TV Archive and those of the regions and nations;
  • Enhance the quality of audience-facing activity, deepen knowledge and build capability in its membership, and;
  • To do this with a particular emphasis on increasing the diversity of audiences and boosting the number of 16-30 year old’s engaging with film activity.

What is Film Hub South East?

Film Hub South East is the Hub region for the South East of England.  Geographically it has grown from the previous iteration of FAN and now covers the following local authority areas: Bedfordshire, Bracknell Forest, Brighton and Hove, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, East Sussex, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Luton, Medway, Milton Keynes, Norfolk, Oxfordshire, Peterborough, Reading, Slough, Southend-on-Sea, Suffolk, Surrey, Thurrock, West Berkshire, West Sussex, Windsor and Maidenhead and Wokingham.

From 2018, Film Hub South East is managed by the Independent Cinema Office (ICO), the UK’s national agency for the development and support of independent film exhibition.

What does Film Hub South East do?

Like all of the regional Film Hubs, Film Hub South East works on behalf of the BFI and in partnership with its members to deliver specific outcomes in its region against the priorities listed above.

Which organisations are eligible to apply for the Programming Group?

To submit a proposal for consideration your organisation must be a member of Film Hub South East. To read more about becoming a member, click here.

Your organisation must also be legally constituted and centrally managed in the UK.

Participating organisations must also:

  • Be DCI-compliant (i.e. screen films from DCP rather than disc)
  • Host at least 300 screenings per year
  • Be willing to demonstrate commitment by attending all meetings with one regular staff contact
  • Be able to host one of the meetings in your venue
  • Be one of the following: a not-for profit cinema; a cinema in a mixed arts venue; a privately-owned independent cinema; a privately-owned cinema within a small (fewer than six sites) cinema chain.

What are the aims of the scheme?

The aim of the Programming Group is to increase opportunities for audiences across the South East region to see independent British and International film at their local cinema.

Film Hub South East is looking to bring together a group of 12 cinemas, each of which will receive a package of funding support, bespoke industry events, advice and information to support their programming and presentation of specialised films.

In return, we simply ask for an ongoing commitment and the monthly programme space to show more independent British films, world cinema, documentaries and archival content than is currently programmed in their venue.

Please read our guidelines for full details.

How do I submit?

It is very simple to make a proposal. You will need to complete a proposal form and send a copy of your programme, or a list of films your cinema has booked over the last six months.

Completed proposals should be emailed to

What's the deadline for proposals?

The deadline for proposals for the Programming Group is 5pm Wednesday 31 July 2019.

How long will it take for a decision to be made on proposals?

We will take a maximum of four weeks to make a decision. During that time, if we have questions on your proposal, we will contact you.

How will decisions be made?

Each proposal will be assessed by two members of senior ICO staff, who will then discuss and finalise the decision.

What do I do if I have further questions about submitting a proposal?

Please ensure you have downloaded and read through the full guidelines in the first instance. If you still have a query, please contact Film Hub South East via or 0207 636 7120.

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