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.

Following the March 2020 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. However with the proposed first re-opening date of 17 May 2021 we are excited to work with our membership to welcome back audiences to the big screen experience 

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.

2. What is The Cinemas Fund

We are now seeking proposals from Hub members that will help us to meet FAN aims during the period June 2021 – March 2022.

The Cinemas Fund is to support full time film exhibitors with a dedicated screen for cinema. In response to the COVID-19 context, we need to support independent cinemas to help secure and maintain a healthy and resilient film exhibition sector for audiences to access in the Midlands.

To help secure this future, organisations will need to change and adapt, and we anticipate a focus on young audiences to be their key to success.

We will be supporting organisations with their business planning, diversity and inclusion aims, environmental sustainability aims, and general audience development plans. 

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 with COVID-19 in mind, reference can be made to the UKCA's Cinemas - keeping workers and customers safe during Covid-19 Guidelines.

3. Key info at a glance:

Total amount available: £ 40,000

Financial support: up to £10,000

Applications open: Tuesday 6th April 2021

Applications close: Friday 23rd April 2021

Financial support confirmed from: May 2021

Support window: June 2021 - Mar 2022

4. 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, ethnic groups, 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. The focus is on material from the national and regional archives and from other moving image collections, as well as fiction films from UK and world cinema history. If your proposal includes archival material, please ensure you have contacted the relevant collection before applying.

5. 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 Cinema 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 engage with the Standards, please get in touch for more information.

6. Additional areas of focus

  • Environmental Sustainability

We are committed to minimising the negative 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 cinema.

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

Bullying, harassment and racism have no place in our industries and we expect all organisations we fund to share our commitment to this principle.

The BFI and BAFTA have 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 in the BFI’s Bullying and harassment prevention hub. We ask all applicants to engage with these principles by, as a minimum, reading these documents and sharing them within your organisation. 

All our funding agreements include a warranty seeking compliance with all applicable legislation and codes of practice relating to this matter.

7. Who can apply?

Your organisation must run a full time cinema programme, with a dedicated screen to cinema, delivering a minimum of 300 individual screenings each year. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2020/2021 is exempt from this requirement. 

Your organisation must not be a recipient of BFI Audience Fund organisational funding, or be an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

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.

8. How much can I apply for?

Members can request up to £10,000 per proposal.

The deadline for final proposals is Friday 23rd April 2021.

9. Use of financial support

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

Eligible expenses:

  • Film rights and print transport
  • Activity-specific staffing costs - for example curation, marketing or project management expenses
  • Marketing, Advertising and PR campaigns
  • Event costs for enhanced screenings - for example speaker, talent or artists fees
  • Volunteer and evaluation expenses
  • Accessibility costs - for example creating accessible supporting materials, subtitling fees
  • Outreach and community inclusion costs - for example providing transport for isolated audiences,
  • Audience development expenses - for example young programmers’ workshops
  • Rights clearances and curation fees for screen heritage materials
  • Venue overheads (capped at 5% of the support)

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

Ineligible Expenses:

All proposed spend should contribute to the exhibition plan. Beyond this, there are some areas not suitable for support from The Cinema 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
  • 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 - for example members only venues
  • The set-up of new film clubs and opening of new cinema venues

10. How to apply for financial support

Application instructions are provided in the following pages. If you have particular access requirements (for example 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 support, you may be able to request financial support through the BFI Access Support Scheme. Find out more information here.

In order to apply you will be asked to submit a short proposal form and budget. The proposal form will give you the opportunity to describe your cinema, its exhibition plan, and how it contributes to Film Hub Midland’s 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.

 11. Assessment criteria:

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

  • Cinema eligibility: does the cinema meet the priorities and timescale of the fund?
  • Audience reach: what are the audience targets, and will the cinema 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?
  • Organisational experience: is the organisation able to carry out the proposal, 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 proposal even if it meets the criteria.  

12. 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 financial support. This process can take additional time. 

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 financial support.

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

13. 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.

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