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29/09/2010

Industry 'At Risk' If Film Council Axed

BECTU is warning of a serious threat to homegrown film-making if Government plans to abolish the UK Film Council go ahead.
In a recent submission to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, written by the union's research officer andy Egan, BECTU argued that the UK could "pay a price in terms of the long-term viability of our film industry" if the decision to abolish the UK Film Council, announced in July, is not reversed.
The union pointed out the film industry contributes £4.5 billion per year to GDP with £3.6 billion of this arising from inward (ie: foreign) investment, while £1.2 billion is raised for the Exchequer, compared to film tax relief of only £110 million.
BECTU also said that the industry directly employs 36,000 workers and supports a total of 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and also has a worldwide reputation for its skills and experience.
Arguing for the retention of the UK Film Council, BECTU said: "However, we also know that the film industry is extremely fragmented, with a workforce that is almost entirely freelance, and a predominance of SMEs and single-purpose vehicles (ie companies formed to make a single film) rather than significant, permanent corporate structures.
"In this context,the strategic role of the UK Film Council has been vital, acting for the industry and brining coherence to its relations with the outside world in a way that no other body is in a position to do - campaigning for inward investment; representing the industry in discussions with government (for example, on modifying the tax break); channelling lottery funding into successful productions; investing in training for key workers in the sector and new entrants; developing the national network of digital cinema screens; promoting diversity in the industry's workforce; and campaigning against piracy/copyright theft."
The document also argues in support of continued government support for the arts, a sector which "is an economic success story in its own right."
The upcoming October Comprehensive Spending Review threatens major cuts in arts funding which many campaigners believe will do long term and irreparable damage to the sector.
BECTU is also supporting the I Value The Arts campaign, led by the National Campaign for the Arts, which is encouraging the public to recognise what is at stake.
The union argues that, aside from the social benefits, the arts are credited with making a substantial contribution to the UK economy which far outweighs the levels of funding. BECTU's submission said: "Public funding for the arts also has a powerful multiplier effect, stimulating economic activity in ancillary sectors, including tourism."
(KMcA/BMcC)
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