Memorandum submitted by Sgrîn Cymru
This paper is produced in response to the invitation
issued in November 2002 to interested parties to submit written
evidence to the Committee to assist their inquiry into all aspects
of the British film industry and British film including the performance
of the Film Council.
Sgrîn Cymru Wales is the lead body in
Wales for the development and promotion of film, television and
new media. It was formed in April 1997 from the merger of the
Wales Film Council, the Wales Film and Television Archive and
Screen Wales. A company limited by guarantee, Sgrîn Cymru
Wales receives revenue funding from the Welsh Development Agency,
the Arts Council of Wales, Wales Trade International, the Film
Council, the broadcasters in Wales (S4C, BBC Wales, ITV 1 Wales)
and the independent production trade body, TAC. Sgrîn hosts
the Media Antenna for Wales. Since 2002 Sgrîn has had delegated
powers to distribute National Lottery funding to film projects
2. THE "INDUSTRY"
Sgrîn Cymru Wales believes that there
is a significant community of people in the United Kingdom concerned
with the production, distribution and exhibition of film. There
is also a significant community of people concerned with the production,
distribution and broadcasting of television programmes and, increasingly,
digital moving image programmes. In our experience, as a body
concerned with all these communities within Wales, we can see
sense in regarding them as essentially a single industry.
Each sector is interrelated with the other and
as technology continues to develop the distinctions between each
become increasingly blurred. At the same time, the challenges
facing them are the same: the need for appropriate, imaginative,
engaging and entertaining content; clear, cost-effective, reliable,
robust and accessible methods of distribution that encourage and
support the ideas of equality of opportunity and minimise social
exclusion; and exhibition or exploitation of the content in ways
that maximise its audiences.
We are unable to comment on the economic impact
of these activities on a UK-wide basis, but research undertaken
for Sgrîn during the early stages of a feasibility study
for the establishment of a creative fund for Wales indicated the
significance of the indigenous industry in Wales.
Analysis of the Standard Industry Classification
(SIC) of media businesses (including sound, motion picture and
video production and TV and radio activities) in 1998 suggests
that there were approximately 3,450 employees and 300 businesses
in the media sectors in Wales.
Skillset data relating to the year 2000 shows
that, including freelancers and contracts of less than a year,
there were 3,796 employees in the audio-visual sector in Wales.
Comparisons with other regions show that employment
in the audio-visual sector in Wales is second only to London when
employment is expressed as a percentage of all employees in the
Our experience in Wales suggests there are many
benefits to be derived from a strong and direct relationship between
television broadcasters and other agencies and players in this
arena. Without the sustained and substantial support from Wales'
broadcasters over many years we would not have achieved the level
of economic activity in this area that is reported above.
Examples of this beneficial relationship between
the sectors is evidenced by the fact that the two Welsh productions
(Hedd Wyn and Solomon a Gaenor) which have received
nominations for Academy Awards in the category of Best Film in
a Foreign Language were commissioned and largely funded by S4C.
The benefits are not, however, merely financial. All the broadcasters
in Wales have and continue to contribute strategically to the
development of the industry through their own schemes and activities
and by taking an active part in the governance of Sgrîn
Cymru Wales itself.
A key area where the synergies of the sectors
have been particularly well harnessed is that of training. Cyfle,
the national training provider in Wales is largely funded by an
S4C levy on Welsh language television productions. Whilst the
graduates of many of Cyfle's training programmes are destined
for work in the broadcast sector they are equipped with transferable
skills and an increasing number are finding work on cinematic
projects in production in Wales.
4. CREATIVE FUND
Government interventions in the area of film
production are often contentious. Indeed, the decision of the
Committee to inquire into the film industry at this point is in
part driven by a desire to ensure that any interventions made
by the Government or its agencies are effective and efficient.
The proposed Creative Fund for Wales, with substantial investment
from the Welsh Assembly Government, provides an example of the
type of support which is designed to maximise return on investment.
The fund's business plan demonstrates that as well as the tangible
returnsincluding the employment and subsequent local economic
benefitsthere are also significant cultural and other intangible
benefits to be accrued.
Again, we believe that the unified approach
to the various sectors to be supported by the proposed fund provides
the best model for maximising the benefits. Technological convergence
and audience behaviour both support our view that treating the
different industry sectors separately is no longer appropriate.
5. THE FILM
The nature of the film and moving image industries
is such that the timescales required to bring a project to conclusion
are protracted and not unusual to be in excess of five years.
We therefore believe that it is premature to undertake a full
evaluation of the work and strategy of the Film Council. Having
said that, there are areas of the organisation's operation which
our experience suggests could be improved.
Sgrîn Cymru Wales works with the other
National Bodies, Scottish Screen, Northern Ireland Film and Television
Commission and the Film Council to further the development of
the United Kingdom's film and moving image industries. As such
we support the aims and objectives of the Council and the publication
in 2002 of Working together: making a difference outlines how
all four organisations pursue their shared and individual goals.
It is important to note that whilst at the current
time the aims of both Sgrîn Cymru Wales and the Film Council
are similar, we are concerned that there is no direct, formal
representation of Wales on the Council itself. Our view is that
such an appointment would further strengthen a good and collaborative
The British Film Institute remains a key educational
and cultural resource for the United Kingdom. However, it has
yet to fully reflect the true nature of devolution. The bfi
must reflect the needs and aspirations of Wales more closely and
should discover appropriate mechanisms to deliver in Wales. This
could be achieved in the area of archiving and access by working
in partnership with the National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales
a joint partnership between the National Library of Wales and
Sgrin Cymru Wales.
Our experience in Wales is that in a constantly
evolving situation there are considerable advantages to be gained
by integrating the activities of all media sectors. This is something,
which has enabled Sgrin Cymru Wales, in a relatively short space
of time, to undertake its role successfully.
17 January 2003
1 Broomfield & Alexander, October 2002, "Creative
Fund for Wales Business Plan". Back