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U.K. Government Backs Vfx Industry with Funding

Government adds to training funds, mulls tax incentives

LONDON — The British government is upping support for the vfx industry, a go-to resource for Hollywood pics.

The news was unveiled in London today by Chancellor George Osbourne, the pol who holds the government’s purse strings, in his annual budget statement.

The support comes in the form of funding for training plus possible tax incentives, to be decided after public consultation.

It adds to the previously announced extended tax reliefs for high-end TV, animation and vidgames.

Last fall the chancellor announced an initial allocation of £6 million ($9.1 million) for the Skills Investment Fund, managed by industry body Creative Skillset, which funds training for the creative industries.

In the new budget an extra $7.6 million per year for the next two years will go to SIF for a total $12.1 million per year.

The government will match-fund voluntary industry contributions to a total of $48.5 million to provide training for over 5,000 individuals working in film, high-end TV, animation, vidgames and now vfx.

The news was welcomed by industryites.

Alex Hope, managing director of vfx house Double Negative, which recently worked on major Hollywood productions including “Man of Steel,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Skyfall,” said: “The U.K. has built a world class visual effects industry over the last 15 years. It is a significant investor in skills and infrastructure and has real potential for growth, however that potential is currently being constrained.

“The chancellor’s announcement that he intends to launch a public consultation on support for the vfx industry is hugely welcome and could provide an opportunity to remove those constraints and drive growth.”

Sarah Mackey, CEO of trade body U.K. Screen Assn., said, “The early indications are very positive for digital content creators. The U.K. is home to some of the best visual effects houses in the world. Our creative fingerprints are all over the global blockbusters of the 21st century. The sector invests heavily in research and development and in skills development and government is recognizing the value of supporting its continued success.”

Adrian Wootton, CEO of the British Film Commission and Film London said the incoming tax relief for the creative sector will ensure the U.K. can “continue to compete globally on a level playing field and continue to attract the biggest and most technically challenging film and TV projects to the U.K.”

An extra $22.7 million will fund the Technology Strategy Board in designing and launching a new competition, inviting consortia bids to support digital content production through industry partnerships.

“Today’s package of measures recognizes the significant economic contribution made by our highly skilled creative content industries,” said U.K. creative industries minister Ed Vaizey. “It demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to supporting innovation and investing in talent to help keep the U.K. ahead of the game when it comes creative excellence.”

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