$3.3 mil to be directed at supporting specialty, U.K. pix

LONDON — At a time when Blighty’s public purse for the arts is being drawn ever tighter, the British Film Institute has announced a new £2 million ($3.3 million) transitional fund to support orgs across the U.K.

The fund, which is being unveiled less than a fortnight after the BFI took the reins from the shuttered U.K. Film Council, will provide transitional support for one year to orgs dedicated to delivering boosting auds for specialty and Brit pics.

Its aim is to enable orgs such as indie cinemas, film fests, film clubs and societies, arts centers and regional archives to continue delivering films to auds.

The fund will go live in early May, giving orgs one month to apply for the funding.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that their funding for core activities has been significantly reduced or withdrawn for the 2011/12 financial year.

BFI head of distribution and exhibition Peter Buckingham said: “It’s critical that we ensure that audiences don’t suffer as a result of this transition period and that we enable film organizations to survive, and indeed continue to thrive, for the long-term growth and development of film in the U.K.”

Blighty, like many European territories, has seen public funding to the arts orgs slashed in recent months.

Arts Council England, the body that hands out arts coin on behalf of the government, has been forced to implement a 29.6% cut over four years.

Legit funding has been slashed with the National Theater, the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House all seeing funding cuts of 15% over the next four years.

However, the Brit film biz, which is reliant on three public coin pots — the BFI, Film4 and BBC Films — has yet to see what kind of effects the changes of recent months will have on the industry.

The government has pledged to increase the size of the BFI’s film production fund from $24.4 million to $29.3 million for 2011-12 and expects lottery funding to rise from $43.9 million to more than $65 million by 2014.

In the wake of transitioning former UKFC duties to the BFI, departments under the old banner such as Film Export, which promoted Brit pics internationally and film education are under review while the Research and Statistics Unit is not specifically being funded.

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