UK to end participation in Creative Europe

Decision will impact funding for filmmakers

by Jennie Kermode

The Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent was a UK-Polish co-production made with the aid of Creative Europe
The Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent was a UK-Polish co-production made with the aid of Creative Europe

Following the publication of the UK government's EU negotiating mandate on Thursday (27 February), concerns have been raised about the fact that it doesn't include any mention of Creative Europe, a project which has been important as a source of funding and support for filmmakers and others in the creative industries. It has now been confirmed that the government does not intend the UK to be a participating member of the next Creative Europe MEDIA project, despite the fact that it would not need to be a member of the EU to do so.

A government spokesperson told Eye For Film "The Government is committed to supporting the UK’s thriving cultural and creative economy. We will continue to invest in the UK's cultural and creative sectors to support their world-class activity on the international stage. Any domestic alternatives will be a consideration for the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review."

Films which have benefited from Creative Europe funding in the past include the award-winning God's Own Country, Lady MacBeth, Paddington 2 and The Death Of Stalin.

Addressing the matter in a statement, the BFI, which has enjoyed a close working relationship with the European body, said that this was not the outcome the industry had been hoping for, but argued that "there is a clear economic case for continuing to support UK independent film internationally across the ecosystem. The independent sector does so much to drive the success of our world class film culture - including the producers, sales agents, distributors and exhibitors. It creates valuable exports, ensuring our content reaches new audiences and is the bedrock for our world-class talent.

“We need to build on the successes of Creative Europe MEDIA to make sure our industry has the necessary means to build strong international business relationships, that audiences worldwide are able to enjoy the full cultural diversity of UK film, and everyone in the UK has access to the widest range of world cinema. We are working with government to determine the best way to ensure we remain one of the world’s leading screen industries.”

A spokesperson for Cinefile expressed concern about how the decision will impact smaller arthouse distributors who regularly apply for support from the media programme (Distribution: Selective Scheme) and reinvest it in future titles for distribution. "There are currently 13 non-EU countries that have either partial or full participation," he noted. "These include EEA countries such as Iceland and Norway as well as neighbouring countries such as Serbia and Albania. These countries must still comply with certain EU regulations and policies and pay a financial contribution in order to participate so who knows if the UK may go down this route... EU funding has been important across the creative industries as a catalyst to unlock other forms of funding, whether public or private. Brexit presents major challenges for all these industries because of the uncertain nature of the future regulatory environment."

The Scottish government described the decision to withdraw as 'incomprehensible' and said that Creative Europe funding had been vital to Scottish productions.

"The type of cultural exchange and collaboration Creative Europe facilitates and the cultural innovation the programme supports can only be achieved through its unique transnational framework," said Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.."By deciding to end our participation in the programme the UK Government is erecting barriers to continued cultural exchange and sending the message that it is closing itself off to our nearest neighbours."

Ms Hyslop noted that she will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Culture in the UK government to discuss her concerns.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK will continue to participate in the current Creative Europe programme until it ends in December this year. Applications for funding can be submitted as normal until that date and may be successful even if the activity the funding is for is due to take place later.

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