Staggering news that the Coalition Govt. is to abolish the UK Film Council, reportedly in order to secure a “direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute”. An odd spin to put on yet another wielding of the blunt axe. The BFI is a venerable and valuable organisation which has in the past played a key role in fostering new film talent, championing diversity and bringing critical and creative perspectives on film together. It is, however, not exactly well placed these days to assume the talent, skills, development and production functions of the Film Council so we have to wonder what exactly Jeremy Hunt has in mind.
In the DCMS press release announcing the changes Hunt states that
“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.”
So taking this at face value is he going to give the BFI what may be left of the UKFC budget and an enlarged role as champion of both film industry as well as culture (its core purpose)? Or is he going to hive off the support of the film industry to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) or an even more ‘Balkanised’ solution – either of which latter options would be supremely idiotic.
This has all the marks of ‘quango busting’ for no good reason other than to reduce the quango count, regardless of the merits of the organisation and, worse still, drives coach and horses through any notion of a coherent policy towards film or the wider creative industries.
Still we can take comfort in the news from Mr Hunt’s blog that he has found “consolation from the pain of having to submit my Treasury spending review bid on Friday by choosing the artwork for my office“.