Cinemas bag £16m from UK government recovery pot as reopening uncertainty lingers

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·3-min read
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The pot of money for cinema is allocated by the British Film Institute (BFI), on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the biggest ever single investment in this country’s cultural sectors. Photo: Getty

Independent cinemas across England have hoovered up £16m ($21.6m) in government recovery grants, as the industry felt some hope due to the continued rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations.

While 201 independent cinemas have been helped, others can now apply for a further £14m in grants from the second round of the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund which will be distributed in the new year.

More support for the screen supply chain has also been announced, as the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme was extended until April 2021. Cover is also now available for cast and crew over 70 years old.

The £500m scheme, which opened for applications in October, has assured nearly 100 productions that they will be supported if future losses are incurred due to COVID-19 and provided the confidence they need to restart filming.

The deadline for productions to register for the scheme has also been extended until April 2021, giving more film and high-end TV projects the security to start shooting in the spring.

The pot of money for cinema is allocated by the British Film Institute (BFI), on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the biggest ever single investment in this country’s cultural sectors.

Cinema accounts for a large slice of the revenue brought in by the entertainment industry in the UK each year. According to the BFI, in 2019 film production in the UK generated a total spend of £2bn, a 17% increase on the previous year’s £1.84bn and the second highest figure since these statistics were first recorded.

2020’s figures will see a major knock, amid lockdowns shuttering cinemas and stopping filming across the world. Major releases such as the new James Bond film have also been held back due to concerns about diminished viewership and smaller returns.

Cinemas in England briefly reopened this summer, but have since shut their doors amid a new wave of coronavirus cases. The recent news of a new, more transmittable strain of the virus will also sound alarm bells.

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Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The magic of film is such an The deadline for productions to register for the scheme has also been extended until April 2021, giving more film and high-end TV projects the security to start shooting in the spring. part of the festive period and this investment will help protect our independent cinemas so they’re around for many Christmases to come.”

Ben Roberts, BFI CEO, said: “From educational programmes and workshops for young people, to screenings for the elderly and audiences with specialised needs, these cinemas play such an important role in people’s lives.

“The Culture Recovery Fund will mean that many of these cinemas survive the current crisis, and go on to play a vital role in the recovery of local economies and communities, bringing people together to offer joy, solace and the magic of the big screen.”

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