1. Strategy
  2. How we’ll do it
  3. Our National Lottery funding

Our National Lottery funding

In line with our ten-year National Lottery Strategy, we will make investments designed to deliver the greatest possible benefit to the public.

The strategic context

Public funding plays an integral role in the UK’s screen sectors. For many years it has nurtured filmmakers and creative risk-takers and connected audiences to a rich range of screen culture – in a way that the market cannot. Over the next 10 years, it has an equally essential role to play.

We are the UK-wide distributor of National Lottery ‘good cause’ funding for film. Consequently, the BFI’s National Lottery Policy Directions set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) require us to:

  • Involve the public and local communities in making policies and setting priorities for how we use this good cause funding.
  • Encourage new talent, innovation, excellence and to help people to deliver new skills.
  • Ensure that film is central to the lives of UK citizens, and to improve the quality of British film and raise its profile in the marketplace.
  • Inspire children and young people.
  • Improve community cohesion and/or social inclusion.
  • Unlock film heritage for everyone in the UK.
  • Increase access and participation for those in sections of society who do not currently benefit from opportunities available.
  • Help the sector develop sustainably.
  • Support equality of opportunity across the UK.

The BFI National Lottery Strategy 2023-2033 aims to deliver the greatest possible benefit to the public and the sector. Over a 13-month period, we consulted extensively to understand public and UK screen sector priorities for the next 10 years. We identified how our funding can best support UK screen culture to thrive as both audiences and the sector continue to evolve. We also evaluated a wide range of our current National Lottery-funded activity to make sure our strategy was based on solid evidence.

Every investment we make over the next 10 years will have to demonstrate how it delivers against our new strategy. As we head into this period, our available BFI National Lottery funding will be in the region of £45m. This is 10% lower than during our previous strategy, BFI2022. As a result, it is even more important that every investment we make delivers the greatest possible return to the public.

BFI National Lottery funding has historically focused primarily on film. But the rapid evolution of moving image storytelling and the convergence of film with forms including television, video games, and interactive and immersive technologies, means National Lottery funding may have a broader role to play in future. This is something we will continue to monitor and assess over the course of the strategy period.

Our strategy in brief

Over the next 10 years, we will use National Lottery funding to drive change against three strategic principles and four major objectives.

The three principles are our cross-cutting priorities which span every area of our organisational and National Lottery activity. They ensure that every single penny of our funding will work to make a difference. The principles focus on:

A. Making screen culture more equitable, diverse and inclusive
B. Supporting screen culture to thrive across the UK
C. Making screen culture more environmentally sustainable

Our four objectives are our long-term ambitions for the strategy period. They set out a bold vision of where we would like to see the sector in ten years’ time, based on our consultation with the public and the sector.

They envision a world in which:

  1. Everyone can experience a great range of stories on screen
  2. Anyone can create original screen work, from first-time creators to world-class professionals
  3. The UK screen sector’s workforce is skilled and reflective of the population
  4. Independents and cultural organisations can adapt and thrive in a changing landscape

Partnerships with a network of external organisations will be at the heart of our investments. Through collaboration, we can ensure our funded activity draws on the wide-ranging knowledge and experience of people in every part of the country and that it responds to the varying needs of each of the regions and devolved nations of the UK.

We will also continue to work to understand the need for National Lottery intervention across the broader screen sectors – from television and video games to interactive and immersive work. Given the reduced amount of funding available as we move into the strategy period, our interventions in these areas will need to start small, in limited areas including research. We will scale support in future, subject to available funding and solid evidence of the need and benefit of doing so.

Our strategy in practice

Our National Lottery Strategy is accompanied by a series of Funding Plans that detail the specific funds and programmes we will use to achieve our aims. The Plans will set out our financial commitments in detail and will cover a period of three years, with the exception of the skills hubs which will be awarded for an initial five-year period. The first Funding Plan, covering 2023-2026 has been published alongside the Strategy.

By running shorter Funding Plans we can adapt our delivery, amending or introducing new funds and programmes as we establish which are most effective. We can also respond as the needs of the screen sector evolve and as the amount of available funding changes.

We have developed a set of 16 outcomes for the strategy period, four of which correspond to each major objective. These measurable outcomes will serve as the starting point for designing our funds and programmes and detail the specific changes, benefits and impacts needed for success. They will allow us to monitor and evaluate every fund and programme we run.

They are:

1. Everyone can experience a great range of stories on screen

  • Children and young people are empowered to develop their own relationships with a wider range of screen culture, including through education.
  • People across the UK can access a wider choice of film and the moving image including stories that reflect their lives.
  • Funding helps to tackle social, economic, and geographic barriers for screen audiences in new and effective ways
  • More people can engage with heritage collections that better reflect the diversity of the UK.

2. Anyone can create original screen work, from first-time creators to world- class professionals

  • More people understand how to express their creativity through stories on screen, including children and young people.
  • Creative talent is supported and nurtured, both as they emerge and throughout their careers.
  • People are better enabled to innovate and experiment creatively.
  • A wider range of stories are told that otherwise wouldn’t be.

3. The UK screen sector workforce is skilled and reflective of the population

  • Equitable and more visible routes into the sector for people of all ages.
  • People from under-represented groups across the UK can access the support they need to develop their careers and skills.
  • Workforce retention is improved by building inclusive, flexible and supportive workplaces.
  • Vital skills for the sector that cannot be delivered by the commercial market are developed.

4. Independents and cultural organisations can adapt and thrive in a changing landscape

  • Better support is available for small and medium-sized enterprises and independents to develop their businesses.
  • An increase in the international engagement and reach of the UK screen sector.
  • Evidence-based insight and analysis of the screen sector is readily available to all, supporting organisations and driving policymaking.
  • Screen organisations have significantly reduced their carbon footprint.

What does success look like?

By the end of the strategy period:

  • The UK screen sectors will be more equitable, diverse and inclusive. National Lottery investment will have helped redress long-standing inequalities of representation in UK screen – from the stories told, to the opportunities available to experience, create and work in moving image sectors.
  • The screen sectors are bringing even greater benefit to people right across the UK. Investment will have responded effectively to varying needs across the nations and regions and delivered benefit to them.
  • The UK screen sectors will be environmentally sustainable. National Lottery funding will have helped to reduce the environmental impact of film, video games and the moving image. It will also have shifted hearts and minds on the importance of reducing humanity’s impact on the planet by supporting work that engages with themes of environmental sustainability.
  • Everyone will be able to experience a rich range of stories on screen. National Lottery funding will have improved opportunities to access and experience a rich range of moving image storytelling. Anyone will be able to create original screen work, from first-time creators to world-class professionals. National Lottery funding will have supported people of all ages and all skill levels to express themselves creatively through stories on screen.
  • The UK screen sector workforce will be skilled and reflect the population. National Lottery funding will have helped people from the widest range of backgrounds across the UK to access and develop careers in the sector in a sustainable fashion. Complementing the effort and investment of the industry at large.
  • Independents and cultural organisations will have adapted and be thriving in a changing landscape. National Lottery funding will have helped organisations deliver continued public benefit by helping them to respond to evolving audiences and market conditions.