The UKFC chairman, Tim Bevan, decried the announcement as a “bad decision” and made “without any consultation or evaluation”. Although it is obvious that all government departments are going to have to consider their budgets in light of the size of the national debt and ultimately make difficult / unpopular decisions, nonetheless this looks like an alarmingly knee-jerk reaction that whilst inevitably saving up-front expenditure in the short-term, will have a devastating long-term impact on the domestic film industry.
The UKFC is certainly not some sort of quaint cottage industry, directing money towards parochial, well-intentioned but ultimately irrelevant films. Recent films supported by the UKFC include such critically acclaimed works as Gosford Park, Man on Wire, Vera Drake, This is England, In the Loop and The Constant Gardener.
All may not yet be lost. Readers may recall a recent announcement by the BBC that 6 Music was to be axed. A concerted, celebrity-backed appeal helped save that station and there is no reason why the UKFC cannot be saved too. An online petition has been launced at Go Petition, which contains the following additional information:-
The UK Film Council was founded in 2000. Since its creation the UK’s core film industry has increased its contribution to our economy by 50% to £4.3 billion, and directly provides jobs for almost 44,000 people.
Attacking cultural spending in the face of economic hardship is short-sighted at the best of times, but unlike financial black holes such as the 2012 Olympics the UK Film Council represents an extremely wise investment by the last government. Every £1 invested by the UK Film Council generates £5 in box office revenues, and contributes to our reputation as a world leader in the field of contemporary cinema.
Clearly then, there is a commercial as well as an artistic argument to be made, on the basis of not only the kudos generated for the UK in general by the work of UKFC, but also through the revenue generated for the government. It’s not too late!
Sign the petition here and feel free to sign up to the support campaign on Facebook as well. Finally, here is Total Film’s tribute to ten of the best film projects supported by the UK Film Council over the past ten years.