BFI FAN announces new Film Exhibition Fund to bring UK audiences back to communal film experiences

The BFI has announced the BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund is now open, with National Lottery funding available to exhibitors across the UK. The new Fund will support activity to re-engage audiences with collective, big screen film experiences at film festivals, mixed arts venues, and both community and traditional cinemas. As part of a comprehensive package of support for film exhibitors – including the Government’s £30m Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England launched last week – the Film Exhibition Fund will support dynamic cultural programming and activities to engage diverse audiences.

Ben Luxford, BFI’s Head of UK Audiences, said: “We know the best place to watch film is on the big screen, but the UK’s many indie venues and smaller exhibitors also serve as vital cultural spaces where audiences can connect with their local community, make new and surprising discoveries and be inspired by this most accessible art form in a communal setting. With the generous support of Government and National Lottery, our wealth of film exhibitors are in a position to restart activity, and this funding is there to support them – to continue being brave with their programming choices and to best serve audiences wherever they live in the UK.”

How to apply for the BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund

BFI FAN is a unique collaboration of eight Film Hubs managed by leading film organisations across the UK, who will each distribute the funding in their region or nation. 

This BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund will enable FAN Members to deliver a broad range of programming once they restart, ensuring excellent British and international independent cinema is available to audiences all over the UK. Other priorities of the Fund are incentivising exhibitors to embed inclusion and environmental sustainability into their approach to reopening, post shut down.


Key dates: 

Applications open: Mon 17 August 2020

Applications close: Wed 30 Sept 2020 

Activity window: Mid Oct 20 - March 21

Activity can vary in length, scale and format. Members can apply for up to £10,000 (note that there are slight regional variations on this) and support can cover programming, marketing and associated costs. 

All proposals must also be able to set out how they will address the BFI Diversity Standards and sign up to the BFI Anti-Bullying and Harassment Principles, as well as 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.    

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 a priority when accompanied by ‘in venue’ work.

Vital support for UK exhibitors impacted by COVID-19

The BFI FAN Film Exhibition is part of a package of support from the UK Government and the BFI, awarding National Lottery funding, to enable many independent cinemas to survive the shutdown which hit arts and cultural venues badly and with immediate impact. 

The BFI FAN Resilience Fund opened in April offering £1.3m in emergency funding to exhibitors in critical need as they continued to face months of closure and uncertainty, awarding 130 FAN Members grants ranging from £415 to £23,000 each. The Government’s £30m Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England is now open, providing funding to cover COVID-related health and safety costs, and grants to support independent cinemas operate under the restricted conditions and at limited capacity due to social distancing measures. The UK Government has also provided funding to support cinemas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will be managed by the devolved Government administrations. Funding available to Film Hub Scotland members includes funding from Screen Scotland.

As part of the industry-wide BFI Screen Sector Task Force, the UK Cinema Association led on publishing guidance on the safe operation of cinemas and mobile cinemas. Working safely during COVID-19 in cinemas, which is regularly updated to meet the latest government guidance, is produced in consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

BFI’s support and recovery strategy for the screen industries

The BFI put in place a package of support for individuals, organisations and businesses across the sector that have been most impacted by COVID-19 (including the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund, Production Continuation Fund, Sales Company Organisational Fund and COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund with The Film & TV Charity for freelancers) and through the BFI Screen Sector Task Force, it continues to work with industry and Government to develop and implement a robust, sector-wide strategy for recovery.

A number of significant initiatives have resulted from the work of the Screen Sector Task Force, including the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England; a Government funded scheme to support independent film and television production struggling to get coronavirus-related insurance; creating guidance for film and television production to restart and cinemas to reopen, both given the green-light by Government and Public Health England; and the quarantine exemption for film and high-end television cast and crew.

We know the best place to watch film is on the big screen, but the UK’s many indie venues and smaller exhibitors also serve as vital cultural spaces where audiences can connect with their local community, make new and surprising discoveries and be inspired by this most accessible art form in a communal setting. With the generous support of Government and National Lottery, our wealth of film exhibitors are in a position to restart activity, and this funding is there to support them – to continue being brave with their programming choices and to best serve audiences wherever they live in the UK

Ben Luxford, BFI Head of UK Audiences

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