BFI National Lottery Audience Projects Fund
First round of awards announced - over £1m invested in Northern cinemas

Exterior view of HOME in the eveningExterior view of HOME in the evening

New funding from the BFI supports organisations in the North and across the UK to grow audiences for film.

The BFI have announced the first awards from the new BFI National Lottery Audience Projects Fund, representing a £6.48 million investment in film exhibition projects that will engage audiences across the UK. The activity supported through the fund will help organisations to develop new audiences, engage audiences that are representative of the UK population, and provide opportunities to enjoy film across the country.

Over £1 million of this funding round has been invested directly into venues in the North. Film Hub North’s leadership partners HOME (Manchester) and Showroom Cinema (Sheffield) have both received multi-year awards running until 2026. This support reinforces the venues’ role as key anchor points for film culture in the region, and allows them to develop long-term audience engagement strategies.

Tyneside Cinema (Newcastle) have also received a short-term award, supporting the organisation to implement a new audience development plan backed up by data-driven research.

   We are incredibly grateful to receive this funding from the BFI as part of its new National Lottery Audience Projects Fund. The last three years have been incredibly hard and the financial road ahead is still going to be a challenge. We’ve experienced a huge increase in operating costs and our audience have been slower than anticipated in returning since the pandemic, something which has been witnessed by many independent venues across the UK. The funding will allow us to plan activity for the next three years. Our priorities are to expand opportunities for young people to engage with screen culture and develop as future film talent, gaining skills and knowledge to enter the film industry. - Ian Wild, CEO of Showroom Cinema

   We are delighted to have been granted a three-year award from the BFI to increase audiences for UK independent and international film. This funding will support our ambitions around increasing partnership working and implementing new programming initiatives. Our primary focus will be opening up our venue to a greater range of audiences that are representative of Manchester’s population. We would like to thank BFI and National Lottery players for making this award possible and we look forward to sharing more about our film programme soon. - Rachel Hayward, Head of Film Strategy at HOME

Elsewhere, significant investment in organisations working right across the UK is set to benefit audiences in the North and beyond.

The Independent Cinema Office receives funding to continue to offer its vital support services to the exhibition sector, including its Screening Days events, and training and research programmes. Cinema For All, the Hub’s Sheffield neighbours, have been awarded support to help them champion the UK’s volunteer-led cinema sector. And itinerant audience development projects such as Reclaim the Frame have been funded with the aim of increasing their impact in the nations and regions.

See the full list of awards

If you screen film in the North of England and want to connect with peers, improve your skills or access funding for local audience development, Film Hub North can help.

Come along to one of our online drop-in sessions to find out more, or head to our Exhibitor Funding homepage.