Hunt unmoving on UK Film Council closure

By staff

Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt has defended his decision to close the UK Film Council (UKFC), defying fierce opposition from the industry.

Writing in the Observer newspaper, he pointed to the six-figure salaries paid to eight of the UKFC’s senior staff to justify his claim that the money was not being spent effectively.

“It is simply not acceptable in these times,” he argued.

“Stopping money being spent on a film quango is not the same as stopping money being spent on film.”

Last week some of Britain’s most well-respected actors challenged the decision, pointing to films like Bend It Like Beckham and In The Loop which had benefited from UKFC assistance.

Bill Nighy, Timothy Spall, Pete Postlethwaite and Sir Ian Holm were among those signing the letter defending the council, which is said to bring £4.5 billion to the UK economy every year.

Mr Hunt fears the British film industry is not making sufficient profits because its big-budget films require foreign investment. Slumdog Millionaire, a creative success for FilmFour, was mainly profitable for the US’ Fox Searchlight, he pointed out.

“Support for film through the lottery and tax credits will continue. But it must be right to address the structural challenges it faces and focus resources on supporting frontline film-makers rather than expensive bureaucracy,” he added.

“We should not accept the relative size of the British film industry as a fait accompli. Rather, we must step up our ambitions and make the UK the best country for nurturing and promoting its homegrown creative talent.”

Mr Hunt proposes rediverting film funding from the National Lottery. A fifth of funds from the lottery will be granted to the arts, including film, he said.