Eighteen months late, coalition finally announces its plan for British film

Alex Hern looks at the government’s new film policy, and asks if they know how to deal with the arts.


Eighteen months after abolishing the UK Film Council, the government has launched its report on the state of the British film industry.

The Guardian writes:

[The panel] has called on ITV and Sky to invest more money in British films.

The 56-point report by the Film Policy Review Panel, which included Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes among its panellists, also proposed an annual “British film week”, a new programme to bring film education to every school and a renewed commitment to combat piracy.

Responding to the report, shadow culture media and sport secretary Harriet Harman said:

“The Review offers the government a chance to move on beyond the destabilisation created by their abolition of the UK Film Council, without consultation or warning, and by the confusion caused by David Cameron’s misleading spin about the report last week.

“The Film Industry here in the UK provides a vital backbone for cinema around the world. Our skills in special effects, animation, set design and costume design are unparalleled, and our creative talent has produced some of the best known and inspired films of this generation.”

As we’ve reported before on Left Foot Forward, the economic contribution of the arts to our nation is often undervalued:

For every one pound invested into the arts, three pounds and fifty pence was generated for the UK economy.

Speaking last November, then-culture secretary Dan Jarvis told us that:

“This government have continually failed to grasp the importance of the Arts and the social and economic value it has to offer. The government has treated the arts like a second-rate sector and I think yesterday’s announcement proves that the Arts Council is trying to make the best of a very bad situation.”

Although the government’s review is rightly welcomed as an attempt to get back on track after leaving the UK film industry leaderless for eighteen months, its focus on encouraging hit movies rather than a more holistic approach aimed at keeping the industry vibrant and innovative could backfire.

As the Guardian reports:

With £18 million of lottery money to spread out between films, it’s not obvious how the British blockbuster industry can become welfare dependent – Hollywood can easily spend three times as much on a single picture…

If film success is what Cameron really wants, with all that £18 million, then it might be worth bearing in mind that without a healthy wider media industry, British films have no chance.

See also:

Labour: Arts cuts have led to a “scaling back of ideas, innovation and creativity”Shamik Das, November 2nd 2011

Hammersmith horror: Community funding cuts from The Usual SuspectsKevin Meagher, February 26th 2011

Bonfire of the quangos “rushed and poorly handled” says Tory MPChris Tarquini, January 7th 2011

The economic madness of abolishing the UK Film CouncilPhil Burton-Cartledge, July 29th 2010

Are the arts being targeted as an easy hit for spending cuts?Ed Jacobs, June 30th 2010

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