BFI announces changes

Org to move, create a National Film Center

LONDON — After a nine-month strategic review, the British Film Institute has unveiled a raft of new policies intended to throw open its doors to a much wider public.

The org has been awarded a 10% increase in its funding from the U.K. Film Council, to £16 million ($29 million) a year.

The BFI will move out of its existing HQ in London’s West End, and relocate to the South Bank complex, where it runs the National Film Theater and the BFI Imax.

It plans to redevelop the NFT and the mothballed Museum of the Moving Image alongside it into a dynamic new space intended as a “prototype” for a National Film Center.

Set to open in summer 2005, this will include exhibition spaces, installations, educational facilities and a delegates center for the London Film Festival.

Within the next 10 years, the BFI hopes to construct a purpose-built National Film Center, either on the South Bank or elsewhere in London.

BFI chairman Anthony Minghella commented, “The strategic review proposes a significant cultural shift in which the BFI turns itself inside out, moving from being an inward-looking organization to becoming one which is engaged and outward-facing.”

BFI director Amanda Nevill said, “We want to work collaboratively with organizations around the country to provide new ways to explore moving image culture, allowing as many people as possible from all sections of society to benefit from the work of the BFI.”

Among the new initiatives:

  • Increased investment in the National Film and TV Archive, with a more proactive approach to restoration and to presenting material to the public, including a partnership with a university to create a center for film scholarship.

  • Partnerships with city authorities to create a network of “mediatheques” around the country where the public can access the riches of the BFI’s archive.

  • An expansion of the BFI’s online presence, including a commitment to put its entire database, the result of 70 years’ research, on the Web within two years.

  • Using the Film Council’s proposed digital screen network to make seasons from the NFT and LFF available nationwide.

  • Creating a new office dedicated to expanding the youth membership, with a mandate to develop links with other forms of popular culture, such as music and sport.

These initiatives will be funded both from the BFI’s increased budget, and through efficiency savings, including staff cuts that are already underway.

The BFI also intends to become more aggressive in marketing in publishing and DVD operations, and has appointed a new director of development to raise sponsorship coin and other partnership funding.

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