Funding of the arts and heritage

Written evidence submitted by MITA – Moving Image Training Alliance (arts 228)

1. What is MITA?

Every week, hundreds of talented people learn the art of moving image production through a network of specialist independent training organisations.

There are more than 30 of these organisations in London’s moving image sector alone, each with a reputation for providing high quality, professional training; film production and exhibition opportunities. Together, they help more than 10,000 people across the capital to develop their moving image production skills each year. (Mapping Independent Production Training in London, 2004. Burns Owens Partnership for Film London.)

MITA – the Moving Image Training Alliance – was established in 2007 with support from Film London and London Development Agency to promote the work of this unique sector. We have a current membership of independent training providers and industry organisations.

Training programmes offer a mix of short, modular and longer courses, with a strong emphasis on practical learning, production-based training, and on-the-job training through paid work placements. The sector is not part of the formal education system, but is also distinct from the commercial training sector. The majority of organisations are charities or not-for-profit organisations, motivated by social goals with their local communities and the support for new artistic work.

2. Why the work of the sector is unique

What makes this sector so important is that it combines high quality, industry-standard training with a commitment to providing opportunities for all, supporting people who would not otherwise have the chance to work in this area. This includes young people with low levels of formal education, unemployed people, and a high proportion from under-represented groups. The sector is a breeding ground for new talent, working with people in the early stages of their careers. Many graduates from with practical creative media degrees lack the business skills and industry knowledge to gain employment, and MITA organisations provide professional development support, taught by renowned industry practitioners.

Results are significant. MITA organisations have a proven record of supporting participants into sustainable industry employment in the film/TV sector; promoting disenfranchised young people into college and apprenticeships; supporting new talent in creating award-winning films.

3. Impact of recession and cut-backs on film training/arts sector

MITA organisations have suffered from recent cut-backs in Government and arts funding, with several highly-regarded and long-established organisations forced into closure over the past two years. These include FT2 (the industry trainer for film apprenticeships for 25 years), Connections Communications (supporting disadvantaged local people for 18 years), TAPS (leading training organisation f or new television writers for 18 years ), YCTV (working with disadvantaged young people), and New Producers Alliance (supporting emergent film/Television producers) to name a few.

The global recession has had a significant impact on the Film/TV sector, reducing budgets available for production, with a knock on effect on MITA organisations. Over the last 18 months organisations have experienced significant reductions in income from facilities hires and course income. Combined with growing difficulties in securing grant income, this means organisations cannot deliver services to their clients (such as young unemployed people) at this time when they need it most.

Further spending cuts will decimate the independent training sector for moving image altogether unless strategies can be put in place.

4. Problem of current grant funding system

The current arts funding system largely comprises one-off grants made on an annual basis. As most arts organisations do not receive any core funding, this means budgeting and forward planning is often difficult.

Some progress has been made by funding bodies asking organisation applicants to calculate funding applications on the basis of full cost recovery. However this still varies from funder to funder, and is not always the case.

Organisations operate with little (if any) core funding, and rely on a combination of grants and own-earned income through courses and facilities hire. The current system of revenue based, one-off grants is disastrous. Funding needs to be allocated on a sustainable basis – 2-3 years worth at a time.

The Arts Council grants for regularly funded organisations is essential, and enables further funds to be levered in. But for many organisations Arts Council funding scarcely represents 12% of their annual turnover. There is a very real need to look at other ways of ensuring core funding can be secured to support sustainability.

5. Problem of funding the independent training sector for moving image

MITA member organisations are funded by a variety of government, regional and local sources, particularly the Arts Council, UK Film Council, Skillset; and through regeneration schemes run by London Development Agency and European schemes. They are therefore very vulnerable to cut-backs from DCMS, Office of the Third Sector and DCSF.

One important step for MITA organisations would be to consider funding independent training providers on the same basis as the Further and Higher Education sector.

6. The abolition of the UK Film Council

The abolition of the UK Film Council has put into doubt future support for film and film making as a whole. The UK Film Council has made a huge impact on the industry across production, training and education initiatives, and its loss will leave the industry weaker and more fragmented.

In particular the loss of the Film Council will have a long-term effect on industry film production, with fewer films available for talented new entrants to work on and develop their skills. The loss of industry training initiatives delivered by MITA members will mean talented new entrants from poorer backgrounds will no longer have the support necessary to enter this industry, which notoriously relies on new entrants working for free on placements or on a very low paid basis for the first few years. The knock-on impact for new talent and therefore future film and television production is hard to estimate.

7. Need for training in creative industries for Londoners

The Creative Industries are London's 3rd largest employment sector with 525,000 people and its second biggest source of jobs, providing roughly one in every 5 new jobs. ( But there is a pressing need for well-trained, local people to take advantage of the increase in knowledge-intensive jobs in London such as in new digital technologies, and employment opportunities arising from the 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games.

Many of London’s young, multi-cultural population has little access to training and employment opportunities in Creative Media. There is a corresponding industry need for diverse new entrants: Skillset and UK Film Council state the need for more young people, women and BAME groups who remain significantly under-represented. Women make up 39% of the film workforce, but only 15% in areas like camera. Only 5% of production workforce is from a BAME background, compared with 24% in London. 3% of people define themselves as disabled. (Skillset's 2006 Employment Census)

September 2010