A number of media reports fuelled by a press release from the Taxpayers’ Alliance have attacked EU funding – via the Creative Europe programme – for film and television. Some reports ridiculed ‘Get Blake!” an animated television series produced in France, though with British connections, and helped with about £300 000 in EU funding. The series has in fact been sold to leading children’s TV channels worldwide and will bring back money into the EU economy.
No newspapers seem to have sought the opinion of either the UK film and TV industry, the British Film Institute (BFI) or of experts on the audiovisual industry. Neither the Times, the Sun nor the Mail – the latter seems to have simply rehashed the story without speaking to us – point out that most developed countries, not least the US, provide subsidies and or tax breaks to film and television.
Among the reasons for supporting film and television are to enable innovative and high quality smaller productions to compete with Hollywood blockbusters, to support exports and because investment in film and TV is both high-risk and takes a long time to generate returns.
Not every investment works, but the end result is support for jobs and growth, not least in the UK, which got €100m or over £75m from the Media Programme – now part of Creative Europe – from 2007-2013.
The UK also provides extensive national support to the audiovisual industry .
The UK’s image worldwide also gets a boost when films like the Iron Lady, Mr Turner, The King’s Speech and many others are, partly thanks to EU and UK support, shown in all four corners of the earth.
Given that the media reports use words like “uncovered” to suggest that the Taxpayers Alliance had somehow revealed something the EU would prefer to keep secret, it is worth pointing out that the full list of productions supported is published online by the European Commission here with further details here.
Of course, the application and selection process is also open and transparent. If any British film and TV companies, especially SMEs, have seen the media reports and would be interested in applying for funding, the details are here. Often a good first step is to speak to advisers at the UK’s own Creative Europe Desk.
Here is the full statement we sent to the Daily Express, which to its credit did include quite a lot of it in its report.
“One of the biggest recent grants under the Media programme now part of Creative Europe was over £1m to help get the Iron Lady, a portrait of Baroness Thatcher, shown across Europe. The Kings Speech received similar support. One of the films referred to in the Taxpayers Alliance document itself even features a farmer described as ‘battling against EU regulations’. So portraying Creative Europe as a euro-propaganda vehicle is ludicrous.
Creative Europe brings money into the EU and UK economies and supports jobs there. Its targeted funding, often for translation and distribution, is highly valued by the UK industry. It helps European film and TV compete with the might of Hollywood. Worth noting that California alone just tripled its tax breaks for film and TV to $330m – a year !
British productions, which get an average of over £10m a year from Creative Europe are among the biggest winners.
Not every film supported by Creative Europe succeeds, but audiences – and not the Taxpayers Alliance – decide what films and TV programmes they like. Get Blake, the cartoon about squirrels, is being shown worldwide on leading kids’ channels. Its plot is no more far-fetched than dozens of huge successes like, say, Shaun The Sheep – also supported by Creative Europe – and to take an example from the rival US industry, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Far from being decided by faceless administrators, the programme and its budget were set up by a decision of elected Ministers and MEPs, including those from the UK. Nominees from all Member State governments are also consulted on specific funding decisions.”