U.K. regional screen agency to be wound down

LONDON — Suzie Norton, chief executive of Blighty’s Birmingham-based Screen West Midlands, has ankled her post at the regional screen agency after three and a half years.

The move comes as the seven existing regional screen agencies — which promote filmmaking and development within their areas — are being wound down and set to be replaced by an England-wide model dubbed Creative England.

During her time at Screen WM, Norton secured £14 million ($22.7 million) of funding for the region’s media industries as well as launching a partnership with pubcaster Channel 4 to deliver the first regional hub for the channel’s 4iP fund, an innovation fund for interactive media.

In a statement, Norton said: “With a new support structure for the screen industries about to be launched, I feel it is the right time for me to leave and move on to the next challenge.”

John Newbigin, chair of Creative England, said: “Suzie has been a highly effective and focused chief executive who raised both the ambition and profile of Screen WM. She not only developed a strategy for the organization that re-engineered it for a digital future but made a significant contribution to policy development at a national level.”

Regional screen agencies in Blighty have been influx since culture minister Ed Vaizey announced on November 29 that they would be merged into one body, Creative England, with hubs in the North, Midlands and South.

Lack of transparency between the agencies as to who would be heading up the new hubs has proven time costly, and many agencies were left disappointed that the location of the three hubs — in Manchester (North), Birmingham (Central) and Bristol (South) — was not up for industry consultation.

In December, Norton registered the name Creative Central as a separate company, leaving some parties concerned that CEOs of the regional screen agencies already located in the three new hub areas were taking on certain responsibilities before they were allocated.

Newbigin has since told Variety that “the intention is to have an open and transparent process” when appointing the new heads of Creative England.

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