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Diversity (Film Sector)

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

12. If he will require the British Film Institute to continue the UK Film Council’s work on promoting diversity in the film sector. (43642)

The British Film Institute has a long and proud track record of commitment to diversity, both in the workplace and in its cultural programme, including such pioneering work as the London lesbian and gay film festival, the breadth of programming in the BFI London film festival and at BFI Southbank and in its DVD catalogue. It remains committed to ensuring access for all to everything that it does and to reflecting the full diversity of experience in its work.

As we celebrate the BAFTAs and the Oscars, I am sure that the Minister will have noticed that there are very few black and minority ethnic faces in front of the screen, and the work force behind the screen are similarly unrepresentative. Will he use his influence to ensure that when the British Film Institute, which is based on the south bank in my part of the world, takes over responsibilities, it understands the importance of diversity for the whole of the work force, and will he work with me to ensure that that is achieved?

I absolutely agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I am certainly happy to work with him and the British Film Institute to ensure that that happens and that we make significant progress.

Returning to the Secretary of State’s comments on the funding of “The King’s Speech”, funding did come from the lottery, but the decision to invest it was actually made by the UK Film Council, and that institution has been working very well. Iain Canning, one of the film’s producers, has said that it would not have been made were it not for the UK Film Council. Colin Firth, after receiving his award, said that he thought that the decision to abolish the UK Film Council was short-sighted. Why does the Secretary of State believe that Colin Firth is wrong and he is right on that?

The

“Plans to merge the UK Film Council… and the British Film Institute… into a single body to support film could benefit both the filmgoing public and the industry… A new, streamlined single body that represents the whole of the film sector will offer a better service for both film makers and film lovers.”

It says here that that is from a statement made in August 2009 by Siôn Simon, the previous Labour Minister responsible for the creative industries. [Interruption.]