Applications are now open for the BFI FAN COVID-19 Resilience Fund, £1.3m of National Lottery funding repurposed to offer critical relief and business continuity to exhibitors across the UK.

The BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience Fund has been launched with the intention of helping FAN members to maintain connections with audiences during the closure period and to be in a position to reopen and re-engage those audiences once the crisis has passed.

About BFI FAN (Film Audience Network)

The vision of the BFI’s UK wide Film Audience Network (FAN) is to build a wider, more diverse cinema audience with a richer appreciation of British and international film.

As of 20 March 2020, the achievement of these aims has been put at risk due to the Government directive to close cinemas, cultural venues and other places of gathering across the UK which, along with the mass cancellation of film festivals, has severely impacted on the ability of FAN Members to deliver to this brief.

Whilst audiences are at the heart of everything FAN does, its ability to reach those audiences in a collective setting is entirely dependent on the sustainability of the cinemas, festivals and other organisations that make up the Film Audience Network.

No one knows how long venues will remain closed but once they are able to open their doors again, it will be vital that buildings are still fit for purpose, core cultural assets have been retained and that they can benefit from a continued connection with the local communities that support them during the period of closure. For cultural organisations that do not operate from a publicly accessible venue the challenges may differ, but are still significant, and FAN will seek to alleviate pressure on its members in some way during this time of extreme difficulty.

About the Fund

The BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience Fund has been launched with the intention of helping FAN members to maintain connections with audiences during the closure period and to be in a position to reopen and re-engage those audiences once the crisis has passed. This Fund is offered on the assumption that the disruption to audience activity could last 6 to 9 months and that the priority for all exhibitors and FAN members will be to get back on their feet as soon as venues are allowed to reopen (which may have to be on a partial basis to start with).

As such FAN, with support from BFI, has decided to direct the majority of its unallocated project funds towards this Resilience Fund which may mean that later in the year there is less available for ‘normal’ project activity. If however the Resilience Fund is not fully spent, any remaining funds will be reallocated to their original purpose enabling FAN Members to reach audiences with a varied and diverse film offering.

The total amount available is up to £1.3m. The BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience Fund repurposes National Lottery funding originally allocated to each Hub for the purposes of supporting in-venue and other audience facing film activity over the next 6 to 9 months. Each Hub will therefore have a different amount of funding available within this overall total to offer in support of its Members.

Whilst the criteria and guidelines outlined below will apply across FAN, each Hub will have its own needs to meet and we expect this Fund to be heavily over-subscribed.
As such it is estimated that the average grant per organisation will be in the range of £5,000 to £15,000 and that grants over £20,000 will be exceptional. Grants must be used within 6 months of being offered or otherwise should be repaid. There are no formal match funding requirements for this Fund but we will expect to see clear evidence that you are actively seeking support from other appropriate sources.

The deadline for applications to the Fund is 6pm on Wednesday 6 May 2020. We do not anticipate issuing a further call for applications but this may be reviewed if the impact of Covid-19 is longer than anticipated and subject to initial demands on the Fund.

What is this Fund cover?

The purpose of this Fund is to support activity that will help FAN member organisations respond to the financial impact of the Covid-19 emergency. This might include:

  • Helping to maintain FAN member’s estate – buildings and other infrastructure such as IT – so that it is fit for purpose and ready for use once venues can re-open e.g. through assistance with rent, utilities, insurance and maintenance costs etc
  • Retaining cultural or intellectual assets such as staff that cannot be furloughed (e.g. leadership staff) or who are able to work on the organisation’s longer term sustainability e.g. through fundraising, audience engagement programmes etc
  • Offering short term support to meet irrecoverable costs incurred in planning or delivery of programmes that are now suspended
  • Audience engagement activity (including online) during the period of closure that will enhance Members’ ability to connect with its audiences and continue to contribute to FAN aims


Applicants must be FAN members that can demonstrate:

  1. (i)  Prior to 20 March 2020 a track record of substantive audience facing activity in line with BFI FAN priorities; AND
  2. (ii)  Immediate financial need;

Organisations that have been awarded BFI Audience Fund ‘Organisational Awards’ for 2020/21 are not eligible to apply even if they meet the above criteria.

Read more about the funding priorities in the guidelines here.

The following costs are ineligible under this Fund:

  • Costs or losses not incurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Costs for audience activity taking place beyond the next 6 months or for any activity within the next 6 months that involves in-venue audiences

In addition, funding does not cover costs that can be met by any of the Government’s emergency measures such as, but not limited to:

  • The Job Retention Scheme
  • Deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
  • The Statutory Sick Pay relief package for SMEs
  • The 12 month business rates holiday for retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all businesses in England in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England with property with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000
  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5m for SMEs through the British Business Bank
  • The HMRC Time to Pay Scheme
  • The Self Employment Income Support Scheme

For further information on these schemes and other relevant information, please visit the Government’s COVID-19 Support for Business page and the BFI’s COVID-19 support page which include information on the Covid-19 Film and TV Emergency Relief Fund.

To Apply

In the first instance you should contact your Film Hub lead by email and they will be in contact to discuss your application with you and advise what information is needed. Please also visit here for guidelines and more information. The deadline for applications is 6pm on Wednesday 6 May 2020.

If you have access requirements that mean you need assistance when applying for funds, you may be able to request financial support through the BFI Access Support Scheme. Find out more information here.

Please give careful thought to how much you need to request from this Fund and only apply where no alternatives are available to you – this will help us ensure funding goes
as far as possible. If you are seeking support from elsewhere but do not yet know if you’ll be successful, you will be asked to set this out in your application.




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