×

COVID-19: BFI Gives Emergency Funding to Independent Cinemas

An employee wearing a face mask
Luka Dakskobler/SOPA Images/Shut

The British Film Institute has made available emergency funding to help independent movie theaters survive the shutdown.

The BFI’s Film Audience Network (FAN) has allocated funding to independent exhibitors through the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund; £1.3 million ($1.64 million) in National Lottery funding, and a £150,000 ($189,000) contribution from the Mayor of London’s Culture at Risk Business Support Fund has been made available to provide grants to those in critical financial need.

Ben Luxford, head of U.K. audiences, BFI, said the emergency grants have “proved to be a lifeline, enabling our fantastic venues, cinemas and festivals across the U.K. to remain in business.” However, these organizations are “still in crisis,” he added.

Luxford said that when the venues are allowed to reopen “safely implementing social distancing guidance will not only be logistically impossible for some, but many are also unlikely to cover their costs when operating at reduced capacity.” Losing these exhibitors would be a “huge cultural loss for U.K. audiences,” so FAN’s funding is designed to help them to “keep the lights on.”

The fund supported 130 organizations across the U.K. with awards ranging from £415 ($524) to £23,000 ($29,000) each.

The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) conducted a survey – “Reopening Cinemas the Independent Way” – to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the independent exhibition industry. It found only 59% of respondents considered they could reopen with social measures in place, with 63% stating they could survive for only three months. Almost half of the 59% believe they will be able to open in September at the earliest.