Being inventive about funding sources is essential in cinema. From sponsorship, to film funding, to support from trusts and foundations, there are options available to most organisation types.

During the current crisis, BFI, FAN and other organisations are pulling together to source funding to support the sector.

*Covid-19 Support*

BFI FAN Covid-19 Resilience Fund – Supported by #NationalLottery funding via the BFI #BFIIndustry. 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. You can read the full BFI Press Release hereGuidelines and application process are now open. Find out more about the BFI FAN COVID-19 RESILIENCE FUND.  Deadline 6pm, 6 May 2020.

Covid-19 Emergency Relief Fund – The Film and TV COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, in partnership with the BFI, provides one-off grants from £500 to £2,500 to those in film, TV and cinema facing financial difficulty because of the Covid-19 crisis. We’re grateful for donations from Netflix, the BFI with funds from the National Lottery, BBC Content, BBC Studios, WarnerMedia, Sky and generous individuals who have come together to support our industry community at this difficult time. Applications to the Covid- 19 Emergency Relief Fund are currently closed.

Arts Council: Covid-19 Support – We are making £160 million of emergency funding available for those organisations and individuals who will need it during this crisis, and we have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of our funding, to help alleviate pressure on them as best we can. Deadline for second round organisations outside national portfolio and individuals: 30 April 2020. Deadline for NPO and CPP lead organisations: 12 midday 19 May 2020.

GOV.UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – If you cannot maintain your current workforce because your operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), you can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution) on that subsidised furlough pay. This is a temporary scheme in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period.

UK Cinemas Network – This is a peer to peer network for those who work in cinemas / multi arts venues. An opportunity to share news, offer support and talk about new opportunities coming up. We can only accept requests from those working directly in film exhibition at this time.

UK Film Exhibition & Distribution Freelancers Network – A peer to peer network for anyone working in film exhibition and distribution in the UK – support, opportunities and more. We can only accept requests from those directly freelancing in film exhibition and distribution (rather than production) in marketing, publicity, audience development and programming.

The Bigger Picture: The latest advice and guidance regarding Covid-19 – Some resources that venues and exhibitors might find useful in this ever-changing situation.

BFI funding

National projects

The BFI distributes National Lottery funding for national audience projects through two avenues. National-scale projects can apply directly to the Audiences Fund, for either an organisational award (two deadlines a year), or through a rolling project fund. You can find out more at this link.

Regional projects

Cinemas running regional projects can apply for funding from their film hub. Each hub operates their funding calendar in a different way, although the aims of the funds are largely the same and refer to the priority areas under BFI 2022:

● Engaging audiences​ – maximising the number of audiences engaging with FAN activity and increasing the quality and cultural depth of their experience
● Broadening film choice​ – increasing access to a wide range of independent British and international film for audiences – especially those outside London
● Diversity​ – increasing the diversity of audiences engaging with FAN activity
● Young audiences​ – boosting participation of 16-30 year olds in FAN activity
● Screen heritage​ – facilitating greater access to archive content with a particular focus on national and regional collections

Find out about each hubs funding on their websites.

Film Hub Midlands
Film Hub North
Film Hub Scotland
Film Hub Northern Ireland
Film Hub Wales
Film Hub South West
Film Hub South East
Film Hub London

Film hubs respond to the needs and make up of their regions so funds may be formatted individually, and focus on different elements of the priorities at different times. You must register as an organisation to be a FAN member to receive funding, but registration is free.

National seasons/campaigns on a regional level

Some regional film hubs also offer project funding to any FAN members across all the nations and regions through national programmes:
Major Programmes (large national seasons led by BFI and FAN)
Screen Heritage (national archive seasons)
New Releases (supporting independent film titles)

Access needs to make an application

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

Cinema-specific funders

BFI Audience Fund
Creative Europe UK
Cinema for All
Screen Scotland
Creative Scotland
Northern Ireland Screen
Ffilm Cymru Wales
Film & Television Charity

Diversity funders

There are also a range of funders who fund projects supporting diverse groups.

Reaching Communities from National Lottery
Big Lottery Fund
Heritage Lottery Fund
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
The Baring Foundation
Paul Hamlyn Foundation
The Allen Lane Foundation
Arts Council
Comic Relief
Arts & Humanities Research Council
The Rayne Foundation
Creative Scotland
Wolfson Foundation
Garfield Weston
Foyle Foundation
Trusthouse Charitable Foundation
John Ellerman Foundation
The Tudor Trust
The Henry Smith Charity
The Dunhill Medical Trust


From in-kind support of food and drink for your event to large CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds from major commercial organisations, there is money to be found for cinemas that can align the work they’re doing to the priorities of companies.

Article – What sponsors want from the arts, Artshub

Developing a Fundraising Strategy - Institute of Fundraising