Government to abolish UK Film Council

Cost cutting drive from Department of Media And Culture

The UK Film Council is set to be scrapped in a shock decision by the Department of Media, Culture And Sport to cut costs.

In a letter to the British film industry, John Woodward, Chief Executive of the Film Council, said he had been informed that “the target is to have the organisation totally closed down with its assets and its remaining operations transferred out by April 2012”.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted to establish a “direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute“.

The decision follows statistics published last week (July 21) by the UK Film Council, showed that British indie films face tough financial times ahead in the current economic climate.

The UK Film Council was founded in 2000 by the then Labour government to promote the British film industry. It started with an annual budget of £15m to invest in British films, and employed 75 people.

Over the last decade the UK Film Council has donated more than £160m to make films, including the likes of Bend it Like Beckham and The Last King of Scotland.

The Department Of Media, Culture And Sport added that funding would continue, but it would be through various other organisations. The Lottery currently gives £26m per year, but this is expected to increase to £32m after 2012.

In a statement, the ministry said it was “clear that culture and creative industries will not be singled out as a soft target, and that the government will champion the value they bring”.

Reactions to the news across the UK film industry have been of shock and dismay. The UK Film Council chairman and founder of Working Title Films, Tim Bevan, told BBC News it was “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”.