After seven years of steady decline Scotland finally saw an improvement in the level of investment secured from the EU MEDIA programme as the programme itself nears its end. As we’ve noted in previous posts (see October 2010 and May 2011) Scottish production companies’ share of MEDIA’s Single Project and Slate development funds hit a high water mark in 2004 then dropped to a low point in 2010. Last year Sigma Film’s £170k Slate award helped stop the rot but the overall share of the €14m MEDIA funding in the UK coming to Scotland remains less than 2%.
To be fair we would not expect Scotland to be sharing in the around €8m support to distributors, sales agents and individual films given the absence of first run distributors based in Scotland and only one film (Sigma’s Perfect Sense) in the eligible list. And in the skills department we’re not faring too badly (thanks to Screen Academy Scotland’s ENGAGE project) with €150K of the €971k invested in training programmes.
On the other hand no Scottish company secured Single Project development funding (19 English and 2 Welsh companies shared €740k between them), Interactive Project funding (€150k awards went to two English and one Welsh company) or a share of the €1.2m in support for TV Distribution shared by five English companies.
All in all a small improvement but not exactly gold medal territory. In any case with the EU MEDIA and CULTURE programmes being replaced in 2014 by ‘Creative Europe’ (if you want to know more those kind people at the European Commission have posted some short FAQ video answers here.) we will all have to get used to new structures, priorities and application processes.
With €1.8bn to spend between 2014 and 2020 (assuming the European Council and Parliament approve the Bill and budget, which have yet to receive their ‘first reading‘) there’s a lot at stake, and not just for media companies. Whether or not Scotland gains independence during that period, we would get a lot of benefit from securing a larger slice of the pie than we have managed recently.