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BFI launches consultation amid concerns over Brexit vote

This week the BFI launched a public consultation on its next five-year strategy. Huw D Jones reports from the Leeds roadshow event.

Following in the wake of last week’s dramatic Brexit vote, BFI chief Amanda Neville sought to reassure workers in Yorkshire’s creative sector that she remained ‘confident about the future’ of the UK film and television industries. Speaking at a BFI roadshow in Leeds, she stated that the UK’s strategically-vital film tax incentive ‘will be safe’. Further assurances also came from Agnieszka Moody of the Creative Europe Desk UK, who said that funding from MEDIA sub-programme would remain for the next two years.

Launching the BFI’s public consultation on its strategy for 2022, Neville highlighted five key challenges facing the sector:

BFI chief Amanda Neville speaking at the BFI's public consultation roadshow in Leeds

BFI chief Amanda Neville speaking at the BFI’s public consultation roadshow in Leeds

Neville said that the BFI’s new strategy would build on the 2012′s Film Forever programme, praising initiatives like the BFI Player, its on-demand platforms, and Into Film, which has established a network of film clubs for young people across the UK. However, she suggested that the BFI’s Film Audience Network (FAN), which seeks to boost audience engagement with film through nine regional hubs, needed to be ‘more ambitious’. She also said the the UK’s skills infrastructure ‘was not fit for purpose’ and suggested the education system needed to do more in terms of combining skills like coding and creativity.

In the discussion workshops which followed, local industry figures were given the chance to have their own say about the BFI’s future priorities. Concerns were raised about the barriers faced by people from working-class backgrounds who aspire to work in the sector and the need for closer links between higher education institutions and local production companies.

There were also calls for the BFI to adopt an ‘Out of London’ strategy similar to the BBC, in order to counter the concentration of jobs and investments in London – an issue which the BFI is already beginning to respond to with news that Screen Yorkshire has been awarded £127,000 through the BFI’s Creative Clusters Challenge Fund, to expand the region’s creative sector infrastructure and skills base.

Also discussed was how the BFI could work with local partners to increase the audience for specialised and UK independent film, with the suggestion (put forward by your own correspondent) that the FAN should develop a stronger and more visible brand (similar to Walter Presents) to curate and promote particular films.

The BFI2022 UK-wide consultation closes on Thursday 8 September 2016. Views can be submitted online via the BFI website.

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