ICO Annual Report 2023-2024

Celebrating our work over the past year

Download our annual report:


The ICO exists so that everyone can experience life-changing cinema, wherever they live and whoever they are.

We continue to be a key source of essential advice, services and support, and a passionate advocate for exhibitors across the UK and internationally. We are immensely grateful to the BFI for their ongoing support, as well as to all our sponsors, partners and clients, and the friends who champion our work. You make what we do possible – thank you.

We hope you enjoy reading the report in full, but here are some of the highlights from our work this past year:

  • Our ICO Client Cinemas screened 850 films, generating £5.9m from 845,468 admissions.
  • We welcomed five new venues to the ICO Client Cinema network: Gloucester Guildhall, JW3, Mareel in Shetland and Nova Cinema in Woking and Stamford Arts Centre.
  • Across four Screening Days events, we welcome 1,105 delegates from 314 organisations, 32% of whom were attending for the first time.
  • We’ve strengthened how we help cinemas reach audiences with Screening Days films by delivering dedicated Audience Development Days preceding our Spring and Autumn events.
  • Our training courses reached 401 trainees from 380 organisations and 24 countries.
  • We saw an increase of 16% of trainees enrol onto our Online Learning Courses.
  • We launched the International Film Festival Network (IFFN), a membership-based community of film festivals, now with 25 members representing 17 countries.
  • We created a survey to gather data on the Financial Health of the Independent Cinema Sector which received 157 responses, acquiring national and international trade press coverage in Screen Daily and Cineuropa. We also used fed into the inquiry by the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee examining the current challenges faced by the British film and high-end television industry.
  • We welcomed 111 members to Film Hub South East training events, and provided 17 bursaries from £2,951 for members to attend events.
  • Through Film Hub South East, we awarded 31 projects a total of £189,084 funding from the National Lottery via the Film Exhibition Fund, including 23% to new awardees. This saw an 18%+ admissions increase across all projects.
  • BFI FAN is a collaboration of eight regional UK film hubs, which includes us as Film Hub South East and additionally this year we are the Cross-FAN Member Support and Communications lead nationally for the network. As part of this work, we launched a new bespoke training programme on Revisiting Your Cinema Business Model.
  • Our Young Film Programmers’ Network grew to 200 young film programmers spread across the South East of England.
  • Our new Short Cut Film Fund awarded three young filmmakers aged 18-23 a £1000 grant alongside personalised mentorship from BFI Network supported directors/producers. 
  • Through BFI NETWORK South East, we awarded £156,000 worth of funding to eight teams via the Short Film Fund and £13,800 to four teams through the Early Development Fund58% of talent receiving the awards were from an underrepresented ethnic group.
  • BFI NETWORK South East supported short, Essex Girls was selected for the Sundance Film Festival in the Short Film category, as well as the Sundance tour and made the longlist for Best British Short at 2024 BAFTA. It also screened at BFI London Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Short Film Award.
  • We engaged 1,149 filmmakers through in-person BFI NETWORK South East events and 544 online.
  • So far, there have been 112k+ online views of select BFI NETWORK South East supported titles (where viewing figures are made available).
  • We announced the second round of nine beneficiaries of our Miles Ketley Memorial Fund, supporting British filmmakers who have already made their first short or feature.
  • Our Advice and Information service answered 867 enquiries and our guides were downloaded 2,878 times.
  • We advertised 430 positions on our Jobs Board.
  • We published 28 articles on the ICO Blog which were viewed 17,802 times.
  • We offered bespoke consultancy for venues and this year helped deliver: a new strategic fundraising plan and new organisational structure for London Short Film Festival; a business case and programming guidance to transform a chain cinema into a community-led independent cinema; a feasibility study for a local authority to help them determine the viability of a new independent cinema and a change of use plan for a school looking to incorporate a public community cinema into their estate.

This year saw our sector continuing to face a challenging climate as with so many cultural industries, but our core vision of all communities having access to a thriving and equitable independent cinema culture remains undiminished in our 21st year.

Catharine Des Forges
Director of the Independent Cinema Office

If you have any questions about the contents of the report or would like to learn more about our work, please email us.

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