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10 February 2011

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Government policy usually includes strategic objectives - even if they are subjective in nature. The British government's policy on film, especially its efforts to create a "sustainable" industry, logically require government actions and how those actions are impacting the overall health of the industry to be measured. How else can progress / performance be evaluated. The UKFC RSU did this job exceedingly well for nearly a decade and I do hope that this work will continue under the BFI's new remit. If not, and if another organisation - such as an academic institution or Nielsen EDI, who used to provide much of the raw data to the UKFC - does not pick up the baton, I fear the government's ability to make the right strategic choices in order to assist the domestic industry will be greatly diminished.

One element I would add to the discussion is that the film sector needs broad evidence of its impacts in order to help justify continued public support. And we can be thinking beyond production, as well. These impacts are cultural, economic, and increasingly social. It's not easy to gather some of this data, but we could be talking about how we do it. For example, what would be involved in articulating and quantifying the economic and social benefits of a local community cinema - in restaurant and pub revenues and a more vibrant centre with greater social cohesion and community wellbeing? This is an agenda the Coalition government is interested in, and we can do a better job of speaking their language.

A good point, Richard, and interesting you should pick up on local cinemas. The UKFC did a piece of work on this very topic back in 2003, and maybe more could be made of this type of approach:

http://www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/10022?page=1&step=10&viewby=category&value=17004

Timing is all- back in 2003 the issue didn't have the political traction needed to engage policy makers. Whereas, as you say, today the question of local service provision and community action is high up the agenda.

In this connection it's interesting to see Rory Stewart, a Tory MP, backing the campaign to save the Lonsdale cinema in Penrith:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jan/11/richard-e-grant-campaign-cumbria-cinema

http://www.rorystewart.co.uk/blog/230-two-campaigns-penrith-cinema-and-newton-rigg


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