1. Introduction

Film Hub Midlands supports film exhibitors to reach audiences with independent, British and international film.

As part of the BFI’s UK wide Film Audience Network (FAN) our vision is to build a wider, more diverse cinema audience with a richer appreciation of British and international film.

FAN’s aims are twofold:

  • to develop a larger, more diverse, confident and sustainable audience for a wider range of independent British and international film - with a primary focus on the collective viewing experience
  • to create a stronger, more connected and confident sector for the distribution and exhibition of independent British and international film.

As of 20 March 2020, the achievement of these aims has been put at risk due to Covid-19 and the Government directive to close cinemas, cultural venues and other places of gathering across the UK which, along with the cancellation of film festivals, has severely impacted on the ability of FAN Members to deliver to this brief.

Whilst audiences are at the heart of everything FAN does, the sector’s ability to reach those audiences in a collective setting is entirely dependent on the sustainability of the cinemas, festivals, community venues and other organisations that make up the Film Audience Network.

The Film Exhibition Fund aims to reboot the independent film exhibition sector and aid the recovery of cultural organisations across the UK. It will support exhibitors to resume audience development activity in line with FAN objectives, programme British, independent and international film, and deliver screenings.

  1. What is The Film Exhibition Fund

We are now seeking proposals from Hub members that will help us to meet FAN aims during the period October 2020 – March 2021.

The Film Exhibition Fund is to support FAN Members to resume cultural programming and engage a broad and diverse audience as they navigate reopening. It is not for new organisations or new projects, as it is geared toward helping existing hub members to reboot activity and re-engage audiences.

A key priority of the fund is to encourage film exhibitors to embed inclusion and environmental sustainability into their approach to restarting activity.

The Fund is primarily aimed at Film Hub Midlands Members engaged in year-round audience facing activity. Support is available for sustaining and expanding existing provision including time-limited, regularly occurring activity such as film festivals where they are able to demonstrate an especially strong fit with FAN’s priorities and where they address the strategic needs of the Hub.

Overall, priority will be given to those Hub members with a demonstrable track record of work that meets FAN’s objectives.

All proposals should respond to Film Hub Midlands’s key strategic objectives, which are outlined in the following pages. Hub Members must also be able to set out how they will address the BFI Diversity Standards.

Proposals must also demonstrate how they will operate safely during Covid-19, reference can be made to the UKCA's Cinemas - keeping workers and customers safe during Covid-19 Guidelines.

Activity supported by The Film Exhibition Fund can vary in length, scale and format - all delivery, however, should take place between October 2020 and March 2021. Members can apply for up to £10,000 and support can cover programming, marketing and associated costs.

Due to the limited resources available, and FAN’s commitment to environmental sustainability, Drive-Ins will not be supported through this fund. Online activity will only be considered for support when accompanied by ‘in venue’ work.

  1. Key info at a glance:

Total amount available: £ 120,000

Awards: up to £ 10,000

Applications open: Monday 17th August

Applications close: Wednesday 30th September

Awards confirmed from: October 2020

Activity window: October 2020 - March 2021

  1. What are our Strategic Objectives?

The following are key priorities for Film Hub Midlands, proposals must be focussed on one or more of these areas:

  • Cultural Engagement

Our ambition is to give everyone, everywhere in the UK the opportunity to engage with the richest and most diverse range of great British and international filmmaking, past, present and future. Cultural Cinema should be for everyone, everywhere. This fund aims to maximise the number of audiences engaging with independent film across our region.

  • Developing young audiences (16-30)

Young audiences are key to the health of the exhibition sector both now and in the future. By engaging with young people, organisations can introduce new audiences to their work and foster future generations of cinemagoers. Activity focused on young audiences may target a segment of the 16-30 audience or the group as a whole.

  • Promoting inclusivity

We are committed to ensuring that the breadth of our communities are able to enjoy a range of film and are working to tackle under-representation in the exhibition industry: be that on our screens, in the workforce or among audiences. We are particularly interested in supporting proposals that address under-representation among disabled, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic and LGBTQ+ groups.

  • Showcasing Screen Heritage

Screen heritage material deepens our understanding of both the past and present. The fund can support activities that showcase various types of screen heritage material. These are: footage from the national and regional archives, footage from other moving image collections, and films from UK and world cinema history. If your proposal includes archival material, please ensure you have contacted the relevant collection before applying.

  1. Our commitment to inclusion
  • BFI Diversity Standards

In line with the BFI Diversity Standards we encourage activity aimed at, and/or co-produced with, under-represented groups. The Standards focus on under-representation in relation to age, disability, ethnicity, gender, LGBTQ+, religion and belief (as they pertain to the Equality Act 2010), as well as socio-economic background and geographical location.

We are particularly committed to ensuring disproportionately affected audiences, such as Black, disabled, Deaf, and neurodivergent people, can experience independent film and be welcomed into cinema spaces.

All Film Exhibition Fund proposals will be asked to demonstrate how their activity promotes inclusivity among audiences, on screen and in the workforce.

We ask that all proposals embrace the Standards, and priority will be given to proposals that do this in a clear and convincing way. Applicants should particularly focus on Standard D and how their proposal provides inclusive audience development opportunities.

The Hub team is on hand to help applicants interpret the Standards, please get in touch for more information.

  1. Additional areas of focus

  • Environmental Sustainability

We are committed to minimising the environmental impact of the work we support and ask all funding recipients to contribute to this aim. In your proposal please summarise steps you are taking to minimise the environmental impact of your activity.

Some inspiring examples of exhibitors working in this area include: Scott Cinemas, HOME, Curzon and Depot. The BFI has a number of recommended resources that may be useful when planning around sustainability.

  • Bullying and Harassment

BFI and Film Hub Midlands afford no tolerance of abuse, bullying and harassment in our own organisations and the FAN members that we fund. The BFI and BAFTA developed a set of principles and zero- tolerance guidance in consultation with organisations, unions and industry bodies across the film, television and games industry in response to urgent and systemic issues. These documents can be found here.

We ask all applicants to engage with these principles by, as a minimum, reading them and sharing them within your organisation. Applicants will also be asked to include a copy of their bullying and harassment policies along with their proposal. If you do not currently have a policy in place, please get in touch and we can support you in this.

Environmental sustainability and Bullying and Harassment are not formal assessment criteria, but the information you provide will be used to gauge how we may support you further in this area and ensure best practice across the Film Audience Network. If a proposed action will incur modest additional costs, you can include these in your budget for consideration.

  1. Who can apply?

You must be a Hub Member in order to access Film Hub Midlands funding opportunities. Our Membership includes organisations of various sizes and shapes - from community cinemas to festivals to multi-arts centres. To become a Member, fill in our Application Form. Please email us if you are unsure whether you are a current Member.

FIlm Hub Lead Organisations are not eligible to apply for their own activity even if they meet the above criteria.

  1. How much can I apply for?

Members can request between £10,000 per proposal.

Please note that we are not able to fund 100% of activity costs. While we do not have a set percentage requirement for match funding, we expect to see box office income and other partnership support - whether in cash, volunteer time or other in-kind contributions - included in the budget.

The deadline for final proposals is Wednesday 30th September.

  1. Use of Awards

Each organisation will have its individual needs - however, broadly speaking, the Film Exhibition Fund can support the following costs.

Eligible expenses:

  • Film rights and print transport
  • Activity-specific staffing costs - eg. curation, marketing or project management expenses
  • Venue hire and activity-specific equipment costs
  • Marketing, Advertising and PR campaigns
  • Event costs for enhanced screenings - eg. speaker, talent or artists fees
  • Volunteer and evaluation expenses
  • Accessibility costs - eg. creating accessible supporting materials, subtitling fees
  • Outreach and community inclusion costs - eg. providing transport for isolated audiences,
  • Audience development expenses - eg. young programmers’ workshops
  • Rights clearances and curation fees for screen heritage materials
  • Costs related to online activity such as web platform or hosting fees

This list is not exhaustive and other items may be considered.

Ineligible Expenses:

All proposed spend should contribute to the activity proposed. Beyond this, there are some areas not suitable for support from The Film Exhibition Fund. These include:

  • Filmmaking costs (including workshops), support for filmmakers to develop or distribute their own work, or for programmes that exclusively engage filmmaker audiences
  • Capital costs covering building repairs, additional health and safety measures required due to Covid-19 including the purchasing of PPE.
  • Programmes entirely comprised of free events, unticketed events or screenings where audience numbers cannot be reported
  • General running costs of organisations not specifically related to the activity
  • Activity that should be covered by statutory education, including events taking place on school grounds/in school hours
  • Events not primarily focused on film exhibition
  • Activity covered by existing funding arrangements
  • Programmes that duplicate provision in the same area
  • Activity taking place in a venue not open to the public - eg. members only venues
  • The set-up of new film clubs and opening of new cinema venues
  1. How to apply for funding

Application instructions are provided in the following pages. If you have particular access requirements (eg. easy read documents), would like to submit your application in another way or have queries about the application process, get in touch with our team who will be happy to discuss this.

If you have access requirements that mean you need assistance when applying for funds, you may be able to request financial support through the BFI Access Support Scheme. Find out more information here.

In order to apply for funds you will be asked to submit a short proposal form and budget. The proposal form will give you the opportunity to describe your activity and how it contributes to Film Hub Midlands' priorities. If you have any questions about the fund, the submission process or would like to discuss your proposal before applying please get in touch.

  1. Assessment criteria:

Your proposal will be assessed by the Film Hub Midlands team. We will specifically look at:

  • Activity eligibility: does the proposed activity meet the priorities and timescale of the fund?
  • Audience reach: what are the audience targets, and will the planned activity deliver them? Subsidy per head will be a consideration. Whilst we appreciate projecting admissions in the current context will be difficult please provide estimates.
  • Impact: what is the cultural ambition of the proposed programme? Are relevant partnerships in place to effectively deliver the activity?
  • Organisational experience: is the organisation able to carry out the proposed activity, including delivering marketing, audience development and evaluation plans?
  • Budget: are all reasonable costs considered? Does the budget balance and are all costs eligible? Have access costs been included?
  • Legacy: what are the longer-term plans to continue to reach audiences?
  • BFI Diversity Standards: does the proposal clearly address the BFI Diversity Standards?

Please note that we expect this fund to be oversubscribed and may not be able to fund your activity even if it meets the criteria.

  1. Decisions and Feedback

Unsuccessful proposals

If you are unsuccessful in your proposal, you will be contacted by email. Being unsuccessful does not prevent you from accessing future Hub opportunities.

Successful proposals

If your proposal is successful, the assessment panel may discuss any required amendments and wish to see a revised plan before confirming an award. This process can take additional time. Activity timelines will need to accommodate this.

If there are no recommendations or amendments to be made, you will be sent a confirmation email setting out the terms and conditions attached to the award.

These will cover payment information, crediting guidelines and monitoring and reporting requirements. All funded activity will need to survey their audiences using our standard template - please bear this in mind when planning your evaluation strategies.

  1. Complaints and Appeals

The funding decision is final. Inevitably applications will be turned down and applicants may be disappointed by this result. Formal appeals against the final decision will not be considered unless the applicant has good cause to believe that the procedures for processing the application were not adhered to, or applied in such as a way as to prejudice the outcome of the application.

A copy of the Complaints and Appeals procedure can be found here.

Film Hub Midlands is a sector development organisation supporting film culture in the Midlands region. The Hub works with a range of organisations and individuals to help great films get made, screened and seen in the region. The Hub is supported by, and proud to award, National Lottery funding as part of the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) and BFI NETWORK.


Supported by National Lottery funding, the BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) is central to the BFI’s aim to ensure the greatest choice of film is available for everyone. Established in 2012 to build wider and more diverse UK cinema audiences for British and international film, FAN is a unique, UK-wide collaboration made up of eight Hubs managed by leading film organisations. FAN also supports talent development with BFI NETWORK Talent Executives in each of the English Hubs, with a mission to discover and support talented writers, directors and producers at the start of their careers.

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