MAC Awarded BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund: Emergency funding to help independent exhibitors survive ongoing venue shutdown

Fri 12 June 2020
MAC Cinema

Midlands Arts Centre is pleased to announce we are the proud recipients of the BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience fund from the National Lottery, through the BFI Film Audience Fund. This emergency award will help us as an independent exhibitor to survive through this challenging closure period.

 £1.3m National Lottery funding, plus a £150,000 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 as they continue to face months of closure and uncertainty. BFI FAN – a unique collaboration of eight Film Hubs managed by leading film organisations across the UK – targeted the fund to help small and medium sized audience-facing organisations with a particular focus on venue-based exhibitors.

Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences, BFI, said: “Redirecting National Lottery and Mayor of London funding to make emergency grants to our independent exhibitors has proved to be a lifeline, enabling our fantastic venues, cinemas and festivals across the UK to remain in business in the immediate term. However, it is clear that these vital and unique organisations, which are crucial to the rich cultural fabric of their local communities, are still in crisis.

“When 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 UK audiences, so I am pleased FAN has been able to help them keep the lights on while we all face the oncoming challenges.

The BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund was administered through each of FAN’s regional and national based Film Hubs, working with the BFI, set up to support exhibitors and festivals which have faced unprecedented challenges, with many at risk of making staff redundant and permanent closure. 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.

The Resilience Fund is part of a package of support the BFI has quickly responded with in order to support individuals, productions, organisations and businesses that have been hardest hit by COVID-19.

This vital resource will help MAC to navigate through this difficult time, allowing us to continue to plan how we will reach our audiences once we are able to reopen. The emergency award is crucial in supporting our ability to provide an offer for audiences to support wellbeing, after a prolonged period of lockdown and isolation.

David Baldwin, Cinema and Screening Producer, MAC, said:This award from the BFI is hugely welcome during a very challenging period for MAC's cinema. It will give us the opportunity to reschedule a number of fantastic events that had to be cancelled, whilst also allowing us to continue a diverse and accessible programme once we reopen.

“Most importantly, this support will help ensure that one of the few locations in the Midlands which offers exceptional cinema from across the globe will survive in the face of unprecedented financial pressure.” 

From 2019 – 2020, MAC held 995 screenings across genres, including art house and world cinema, major seasons, family films, regular series, and one-off special events. Whilst our building is temporarily closed, we have been positively facing forward and planning for the future of our independent cinema and venue, investigating the ways in which we can continue to produce affordable, inclusive, and accessible experiences post-lockdown.

MAC is enormously grateful for this support from the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network, which will be instrumental in helping us to protect our thriving film programme and prepare for the time we can welcome audiences back to our much-loved venue.