The British Film Institute has abandoned its ambitious plan to build a $176 million center of film and television in London – a victim of uncertain political and economic times in the face of Brexit.
In the works for about a decade, the International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image had been envisioned as a hub for industry professionals, a showcase of British creativity and skill, and a permanent home for the BFI London Film Festival. Leading lights such as Helen Mirren and Ralph Fiennes lent their backing to the center, which was to open in 2022.
But the BFI was forced to scrap the project when it became clear that it would not be able to complete the planning process by the end of 2019, a deadline enshrined in the lease agreement for its chosen site.
“Due to the project’s ambitious scale and complexity, a turbulent economic climate and shifting political environment, meeting this deadline was not possible,” a spokesperson for the BFI said Wednesday.
The decision to abandon the project, first reported by Architects Journal, is a major blow to the institute, which last year announced that the plans were on track, with two-thirds of the £130 million budget already rustled up. Blueprints called for the complex to house three screens, a cutting-edge education and research center, and gallery space.
“British film and British filmmakers deserve a home now more than ever, a building that will express our optimism, our confidence and our excitement about Britain’s leading role in the future of film, television and the moving image at home and internationally,” Amanda Nevill, the BFI’s CEO, said at the time.
The project initially had the support of the British government, then led by the Labour Party. But that support was curtailed after the Conservatives took power in 2010.
The BFI still plans to renovate its current headquarters in London’s South Bank cultural complex along the Thames, which is also home to the National Theatre and the Royal Festival Hall concert venue.
“We remain focused on the urgent and much-needed investment in our current home, BFI Southbank, planning to start in early 2018 with a major refurbishment project of BFI Southbank’s Riverfront,” the institute’s spokesperson said. “We also continue to explore additional places where audiences, filmmakers, artists and storytellers can learn and experiment with this dynamic art form and where creativity, technology and innovation can flourish.”