UK Film Council to be scrapped as part of quango mass cull

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Details of the surprise announcement about the axing of the UK Film Council amidst dozens of other arts quangos.

23.58 With the Facebook group inching towards 5,000 members, and the petition well over half that, the web is awash with comment and analysis. Andrew Pulver, Ronan Bennet and John Woodward all have pieces in the Guardian,  the BBC have rounded up some industry reactions and also put a few dozen UKFC short films to watch on Film Network.

18.05 The regional screen agencies are safe (for now), according to the DCMS in a quote published on Northern Media's website.

17.03 These Twitter streams are good places to keep up with latest developments and opinions: 'Film Council' and 'UKFC'. There's also a 'Save the UK Film Council' Facebook group and a petition.

15.31 Questions over - with hints that the axe may not have fully fallen and a clear sign that there will be further be consultations.

15.15 The DUP's Ian Paisley is asking about the UKFC. Jeremy Hunt replies: 'We have not announced a decision,  we have announced that we are considering doing this, as we want to hear everyone's views. The UKFC spent £3m on back office administration last year and we want to ask how that money could be better used to support filmmakers."

15.10 So that was a very brief statement. Nothing new learned. Except asking about England's 2018 World Cup campaign is 'a very good question'.

15.08 Now on to the World Cup 2018. What!?!

15.08 'Every penny to be spent frontline services and not on back office bureaucracy'. 

15.06 'A brief statement'. Says Jeremy Hunt. Finally. He does use the phrase 'considering the closure of the UK Film Council' as if to say there is still room for discussion.

14.58 Ben Bradshaw, shadow culture secretary is asking if the DCMS is lobbying for larger shares of the budget than other departments. Bradshaw notes there is no-one from the LibDem front bench in the Commons. Bradshaw, openly gay, is calling them the Brokeback Mountain Coalition.

14.55 Creative Partnerships (a brilliant scheme) being discussed in the Commons. May the axe not fall upon them. Vaizey at least acknowledges there lots of 'good initiatives on the ground'.

14.52: House of Commons questions continue. Lots of interesting questions on media ownership, the BBC and the Digital Economy Bill but not about today's announcements, presumably will come at the end after pre-submitted questions are asked. My connection keeps dropping as well, there must be a lot of people viewing it.

14.34: House of Commons Questions  for Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture have started. The BBC is taking top bill: http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/ and dedicated page here.

14.04: John Woodward, CEO of the UK Film Council has sent an email to industry colleagues which includes a timetable for closure:

"The Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, has said that the target is to have the organisation totally closed down with its assets and its remaining operations transferred out by April 2012. That does, at least, give us time to honour our current commitments and, as far as possible, to continue our funded support for film while the DCMS  ensures an orderly transfer of remaining film functions to other Government departments and/or agencies. My one priority over the next few weeks will be to press the Government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in.

"It’s important to stress that the Government has said it remains committed to both the current Film Tax Relief and to the principle of Lottery funding for film. To that end, our existing funded activities will continue to operate as normal while we work with the DCMS over the Summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film going forward.

"I completely understand that you will have lots of questions – but many of the answers will have to wait until the dust settles and the DCMS comes up with a new plan for film clearer in the months ahead. We will of course keep you abreast of further developments."

13.02 - UK Film Council statement. Responding to today’s announcement by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of plans to abolish the UK Film Council as one of 16 quangos cut by the DCMS, Tim Bevan CBE, co-head of Working Title and Chairman of the UK Film Council, said:

“Abolishing the most successful film support organisation the UK has ever had is a bad decision, imposed without any consultation or evaluation. People will rightly look back on today’s announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency. British film, which is one of the UK’s more successful growth industries, deserves better.

“Our immediate priority now is to press the Government to confirm that the funding levels and core functions that are needed to underpin British film are locked-in, especially at a time when filmmakers and film companies need more support than ever as they make the challenging transition into the digital age. To that end, we will work with the DCMS over the summer to identify how they can guarantee both continuity and safe harbour for British film.”

The UK Film Council - what it does and has done (from the UKFC)

  1. The UK Film Council – http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/ – is the Government's lead agency for film in the UK, supporting the UK film industry, celebrating UK film culture and nurturing UK film talent at home and abroad. It employs 75 people.
  2. Since its creation in 2000, the UK Film Council has invested over £160m of Lottery funding into more than 900 films which have entertained over 200 million people and helped generate over £700 million at the box office worldwide, generating £5 for every £1 of Lottery money it has invested.
  3. Its support develops new filmmakers, funds ambitious new British films and gets a wider choice of films to audiences throughout the UK. It also invests in training British talent, promoting Britain as an international filmmaking location and raising the profile of British films abroad.
  4. Since 2000 the UK Film Council has funded such films as Bend it like Beckham, Bright StarThe Constant GardenerFish TankGosford ParkHappy-Go-Lucky, In the Loop, The Last King of Scotland, Man on Wire, Nowhere Boy, Red RoadSt Trinian’sThis is England, Touching the Void, Vera Drake ,The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Streetdance 3D, the UK's first 3D film.
  5. Upcoming films backed by the UK Film Council include Mike Leigh's Another Year, Stephen Frears's Tamara Drewe, Nigel Cole's Made in Dagenham, Joe Cornish's Attack the Block, Rowan Joffe's Brighton Rock, Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk about Kevin, Justin Chadwick's The First Grader, Tom Hooper's The King's Speech, Peter Mullan's Neds and Andrea Arnold's Wuthering Heights.
  6. Current UK Film Council funding initiatives include:
  • the world’s first Digital Screen Network, which has invested in 240 digital screens in cinemas across the UK, increasing film choice, bringing the 3D experience to a wider audience, and ensuring the UK has more digital cinemas than any other European country;
  • awarding three newly-formed consortiums a total of £1.2 million of Lottery funding, to bring the latest in digital cinema to venues across four ‘under-screened’ UK counties (North Yorkshire, Shropshire, and Wiltshire and Test Valley (Hampshire)), giving rural audiences the opportunity to enjoy a modern digital cinema experience – including 3D film screenings, live opera, theatre and sport satellite events beamed across the UK – without having to travel long distances;
  • supporting over 200 film societies and independent regional film venues;
  • UK film festivals, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival and the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival;
  • working with Skillset, the UK skills and training industry body for the creative industries, enabling almost 7,000 people to further their filmmaking careers;
  • giving over 20,000 young people the opportunity to get involved in filmmaking through First Light and Mediabox;
  • bringing FILMCLUB to thousands of schools, introducing new generations of children to the best of British and international cinema.
  1. The UK film industry has a turnover of £6.8 billion. It contributes a total of over £4.5 billion a year to UK GDP, returns more than £1.2 billion to the Exchequer and supports a total of 100,000 direct and indirect jobs.
  2. The UK box office has grown by 62% since the UK Film Council was created (in 2009 it reached record levels of £944 million), with British films accounting for 23% of all UK cinema takings over the ten years to 2009.
  3. Recent figures show that in 2009:
  • cinema admissions rose to 174 million, the highest figure for seven years;
  • British films and talent won 36 major film awards, 17% of the total available;
  • inward investment reached a record £753 million, up 111% on 2008;
  • UK film exports exceeded £1.3 billion, 92% higher than in 2001.

The DCMS Announcement

DCMS improves efficiency and cuts costs with review of arm’s length bodies

26 July 2010

A number of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) 55 public bodies are set to be merged, abolished or streamlined as part of the Government’s drive to cut costs and increase transparency, accountability and efficiency, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today.

Mr Hunt has proposed a number of changes, including:

  • abolishing the UK Film Council and establishing a direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute.  This would support front-line services while ensuring greater value for money. Government and Lottery support for film will continue;

  • abolishing the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to focus efforts on front-line, essential services and ensure greater value for money. Government support for museums, libraries and archives will continue; and

  • merging UK Sport and Sport England, creating a more effective structure to deliver elite sport success and a wider sports legacy from the 2012 games.

Some key functions carried out by these bodies would be transferred to other, existing organisations. DCMS will do further work over the summer to finalise the details and timing of these changes. It will also continue to look at its other arm’s length bodies and explore further opportunities to improve accountability and efficiency. 
Mr Hunt said:

“The Government is committed to increasing the transparency and accountability of its public bodies, while at the same time reducing their number and cost.

“Many of these bodies were set up a considerable length of time ago, and times and demands have changed. In the light of the current financial situation, and as part of our drive to increase openness and efficiency across Whitehall, it is the right time to look again at the role, size and scope of these organisations.

“The changes I have proposed today would help us deliver fantastic culture, media and sport, while ensuring value for money for the public and transparency about where taxpayers’ money is spent.”

Further proposals include:

  • abolishing the Advisory Council on Libraries and winding up the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel;

  • abolishing the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites;

  • declassifying the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships and transferring its functions to another body; and

  • declassifying the Theatres Trust so it can act as an independent statutory advisory body.

DCMS is also:

  • looking at its responsibility for heritage and the built environment, and considering the role and remit of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund;

  • considering the role of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment;

  • discussing with the Church of England the merits of declassifying the Churches Conservation Trust; and

  • considering whether to change the status, role and functions of Visit England and Visit Britain.

In addition, DCMS confirmed today that it intends to merge the National Lottery Commission with the Gambling Commission, subject to further consideration of the business case.

Notes to Editors

  1. Key activities currently carried out by the UK Film Council will continue, including Lottery funding and work in support of film certification for tax purposes. DCMS will now consider options for transferring those responsibilities to other organisations. As a charity, the British Film Institute (BFI) is not within the scope of this review, but the Government is committed to its long term future. DCMS will now consider how to build a more direct relationship between the BFI and Government.

  2. The merger of the National Lottery Commission and the Gambling Commission was announced by the then Chancellor in the Budget on 24 March 2010.  DCMS is working with both bodies on the merger which will improve efficiency while preserving appropriate and effective regulation of both sectors. 

  3. Any necessary legislative changes would be made through the Cabinet Office’s Public Bodies Bill, which is due to be introduced in the autumn.  

  4. Where proposed changes have implications for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we will work closely with them to finalise proposals.

The Ministerial Statement from Jeremy Hunt, in full

Monday 26th JULY 2010

Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s arm’s length bodies

The Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport (Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt):

DCMS is responsible for a number of sectors which people are passionate about.  From sports through to television, and live music through to museums, DCMS and its public bodies make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives

Despite being one of the smaller Government Departments, we are responsible for a network of more than fifty public bodies.

In my first few months as Secretary of State I have made it my priority to examine our network of public bodies critically with the aim of improving accountability, transparency and value for money.

In line with the commitments set out in the Coalition Document, I have been applying the Government’s agreed tests to each of our bodies: does it perform a technical function?; does it need to be politically impartial?; and does it act independently to establish facts?

This forms part of the work being undertaken across Government, and led by the Cabinet Office, to restore proper accountability for activities funded by public money. Public bodies which do not meet one of the three tests outlined will be bought back into departments or devolved if their function is necessary or abolished if not. This work will reduce the number of public bodies, increase the transparency and accountability of the remaining few, and ensure more effective delivery of public services. As a result of this review, I am today announcing my intention to make a number of changes.

This will include:

  • the abolition of the UK Film Council;
  • the abolition of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council;
  • the merger of UK Sport and Sport England;
  • the merger of the National Lottery Commission and Gambling Commission1;
  • the abolition of the Advisory Council on Libraries and the wind up of the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel.
  • the abolition of the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites and the declassification of the Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships.
  • Declassifying the Theatres Trust so it can act as an independent statutory advisory body.

Further work will be done in discussion with the bodies concerned and other interested parties over the summer to finalise the details and timing of these proposals.

Where bodies are to be abolished we will look to transfer key functions to other existing bodies so as to continue to support our sectors and preserve the necessary expertise.  In the case of the Film Council, for example, this will include their current responsibilities for the distribution of Lottery funding for films, which will be maintained, as well as support for the certification process which is critical to the film tax relief, which will also be maintained.

We will maintain a strong relationship with the British Film Institute.

We will also continue to explore further opportunities to improve the accountability and coherence of our public bodies landscape.

We are looking closely at our responsibility for Heritage and the Built Environment and so are currently considering the role and remit of English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Additionally, we are considering the role of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and exploring opportunities to consolidate its functions. We will also be discussing with the Church of England the merits of declassifying the Churches Conservation Trust so it has greater operational freedom.

In addition we have reviewed the status of the two public bodies set up to help us deliver a successful games in 2012 – the Olympic Delivery Authority and the Olympic Lottery Distributor – and have concluded there is no need to change our existing plans to wind up these organisations following the Games.

The Olympic Games provide a huge opportunity to boost inbound and domestic tourism and we continue to explore the best way of realising our ambitious goals in this area.   As part of this we are considering the status, role and functions of Visit England and Visit Britain.  A final decision will be made on this in the autumn as part of the Spending Review.

Any necessary legislative changes will be made through the Cabinet Office Public Bodies Bill, which is due to be introduced in the autumn.

Where proposed changes have implications for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland we will work closely with them to finalise proposals.

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Comments   

+2 # Congratulate Jeremy Hunt, The UK Film Council was the enemy of Uk film making jobs and investmentGuest 2010-07-31 20:42
Having lobbied hard to get rid of The UK Film Council, those of us at Save The British Film Industry have obviously been celebrating all week and congratulating the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
For there to be a British Film Industry, there needs to be sound stages built around The UK. Ideally at least 4 in every county. Hollywood $50 million to $300 million productions can only go where sound stages are. For those who do not know, they are glorified warehouses, more normally found in The Midlands and The North YET curiously sound stages are confined to a very very small 200 acres in the area of west London, and just North and West of London. The Uk Film Industry fought tooth and nail to ensure not one penny of Lottery money was spent on building sound stages outside of this small 200 acre zone..thus guaranteeing a UK film industry could not arise. They did spend £300 000 a year on their ground rent. They did employ 75 people on £70 000 to £150 000 who often had several other jobs. But sound stages, post-production facilities, nope. If these existed across The UK, then many more entrepreneurs who invest in fast food franchaises, laundrettes, restaurants, shops, etc will take the risk and hire them to try their luck at film making for profit. It was the volume of risk taking entrepreneurs which created Hollywood, and they then built sound stages, before selling them for houses, and forever thereafter seeking to rent them elsewhere such as Pinewood, Shepperton, Elstree.
Now the MD of Elstree earns a fraction of the salary of the average UKFC employee, yet he has delivered two years of block booking of Elstree sound stages by Hollywood Studios creating lots of UK based film jobs. Why is only little Hertsmere Council, owner of Elstree, wise about sound stages ? Why did The UKFC not educate people outside West London that they are the essential infrastructure of a real industry ? Now UKFC is gone, and hopefully certain very very high paid, huge expenses Regional screen Commissions with them, the sound stages can get built and UK film making enter a true golden age.
We urge people not to sign any Petition to save UKFC fatcat jobs. It has nothing to do with The UK Film Industry, indeed it was the enemy of most people making films in Britain.
www.savethebritishfilmindustry.com/2010/07/ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead-save-the-british-film-industry-kill-the-uk-film-council/

We also urge people to realise that the 34 sound stages in Pinewood and shepperton Studios are now in jeapordy and over 85% of UK film jobs with them. The two shareholders in the 51% ownership of Pinewood Shepperton plc are open that it is the property value which has driven them to purchase. The existing Board has in the last 12 months given the Pinewood Brandname for a fee to competitor companies in Canada, Malaysia, Germany and The Dominican Republic. The film jobs are being transfered outside of The UK and by 2012 can be gone. Only Elstree left with their 6 sound stages. So did The UK Film Council speak out. Mope they cheered the move to send the jobs outside The UK. So they did not even defend the London film industry in the final analysis. It is time for others to do the job, they should have done but would not do....however their service to high priced London restaurants on public money, their service to First Class travel and Five Star hotels on taxpayer money is their real legacy.
-1 # RE: UK Film Council to be scrapped as part of quango mass cullNic Wistreich 2010-08-02 12:52
Cheers Jonathan.

So the existing studios are at risk of becoming empty AND every county needs four new studios built? Possibly the banks will find a problem with that :-)

Never knew the UKFC put money into sound stages anywhere, sounds more like capital investment you'd get from development agencies or the Lottery main?

I do want to know what happened to the £250m Gleneagles Film Studio project - definitely a shortage of good facilities here in the North: www.netribution.co.uk/news/northern_exposure/84/2.html
0 # UK Film CouncilGuest 2010-08-03 09:39
The best news in year! They should arrest all the heads of this idiotic non sense of an organisation as well. The UK Film Council has always been the most corrupt organisation in the UK.

I just hope it won't be a return to the nineties when the Arts Council spent all their time and money merging and de-merging with local idiots and changing their logos every five minutes and organising countless of useless training courses.
-1 # RE: UK Film CouncilNic Wistreich 2010-08-03 10:59
Hmm, it's like scrapping the rail network because your train is always late and overcrowded.

They were often full of crap but how can any true indie filmmaker agree its better to have less possible places to get money from and no infrastructure to at least try and make the investment impartial, transparent and in good projects (Robert Jones, Sally Caplan and Tanya Seghatchian were all big league producers who'd made some good films before joining UKFC). I'm guessing you're hoping the Arts Council will go to..
+2 # The Lottery was set up to build film sound stagesGuest 2010-08-09 13:51
The Lottery Money was set up regarding the film industry to build vital infrastructure aound The UK. The sound stages and post-production facilities are the bridges, roads, railway tracks which are utterly vital. But UKFC made certain they spent zip on it, so only those on 200 acres in a tiny part of the south-east remained ENSURING Hollywood and others could not film big budget productions with top stars anywhere else.
Then the clowns did not even defend those in the south-east now owned by property companies who want houses and car parks on them.
Please Mr Hunt axe The UK Film Council now, not in 2 years time. they are spending £140 million of taxpayers money to defend their 9 live fatcat quango while cheering as real UK film jobs go to Malaysia and china, Canada and Germany. Axe them now before they spend all our money on adverts, PR events, black propaganda on saving their 6 figure jobs and fiefdom. This £140 million could build 50 sound stages around The UK magnetising Hollywood finance. It could build 10 in Nottingham.
www.savethebritishfilmindustry.com/uk-film-council/
and this man Vic Armstrong has done more to build the reputation of The UK film industry than all of UKFC
www.savethebritishfilmindustry.com/2010/07/vic-armstrong-should-now-direct-the-next-007-james-bond-movie/