British cinema rocked as UK Film Council scrapped

By staff

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to scrap the UK Film Council (UKFC) has been condemned by its leaders as a “big mistake”.

Chief executive John Woodward told the British film industry in a letter that the move was “ill-thought and incoherent” as the sector faced major cuts.

Films like The Constant Gardener, This Is England, Man On Wire and In the Loop had all benefited from the UKFC, which employed 75 people and had an annual budget of £15 million.

It now faces being totally closed down with its assets and remaining operations transferred out by April 2012.

UKFC chairman Tim Bevan joined the criticisms, saying: “People will rightly look back on today’s announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency.”

Film funding is to continue but through other bodies, with lottery funding for film expected to rise from £26 million a year to £32 million after 2012.

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

Other public bodies, including the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, are set to lose their government funding as part of a drive to “increasing the transparency and accountability of its public bodies, while at the same time reducing their number and cost”.

But shadow culture secretary Ben Bradshaw said the cuts were “hasty, ill-thought and incoherent.”

He added: “The UK film industry has just had its best year ever, earning millions for our country, but the government is axing the UK Film Council without saying what or who will do its important work.”