British Film Institute poised to get more coin

Rising lottery sales to boost arts funding

LONDON — The British Film Institute could be set for a dramatic increase in its funding, thanks to a boom in sales of National Lottery tickets, according to the latest U.K. government estimates.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey announced that the BFI is now projected to receive £240 million ($380 million) in lottery coin from 2012-13 to 2016-17, up 20% from the previous predicted figure of around $318 million.

That would translate as an average budget of $78 million a year to be spent on U.K. film production, distribution, training and industry development. The government previously said the BFI’s lottery funding would increase from $43 million to $68 million a year by 2014.

That compares to the budget of $40 million a year received by the U.K. Film Council before its closure last April.

But insiders estimate that the BFI’s actual budget could even higher, to as much as $90 million a year, after including unspent surpluses inherited from the UKFC and recoupment revenues from hit UKFC films such as “The King’s Speech” and “Streetdance 3D.”

The BFI was already set to benefit from the government’s decision to give a larger share of the national lottery revenues to the arts from 2012 onward, after several years in which a significant proportion of lottery coin was diverted to funding the London 2012 Olympics.

The latest increased budget estimates follow an unexpected rise in lottery ticket sales.

The Arts Council of England is also now projected to receive an extra $253 million from 2012 to 2017, bringing its total five-year budget to $1.98 billion.

But Vaizey cautioned that these increases will only materialize if the current upward trend of lottery sales continues over the next five years.

“In a time of economic uncertainty, the arts are more important than ever,” Vaizey said. “The cultural value is immeasurable and we are in no doubt about the contribution that the arts make to our economy, our communities, our schools and our well-being.

“We reformed the National Lottery so that the arts, film, sports and heritage would all benefit. And rising ticket sales mean that an extra £200 million could be going to the arts over the next five years, which is great news for artists and audiences across the country.”