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UK Film Council Sets Goals for Increased Diversity

The government-backed U.K. Film Council on Thursday unveiled a set of proposals designed to make things better for women, minorities and the disabled in the British movie industry.

In a statement, the council said it wished to "ensure that talent from all sections of the community is able to flourish."

It said the issue would be addressed on three fronts: to help the industry achieve a more diverse work force behind and in front of the camera; ensure that equality and diversity commitments were fully integrated into every aspect of all core Film Council activities and the programs it backs; and to enable all sections of the community to participate in and enjoy film culture.

Film producer Tim Bevan ("Love Actually"), chairman of the Film Council's cultural diversity working group, released a document titled "Success Through Diversity and Inclusion" to spark responses to be gathered by Jan. 21, 2004.

"One of the U.K.'s most distinctive and valued assets is its multiculturalism, and from my perspective as a producer this offers film a real opportunity in developing creative potential," Bevan said. "The U.K. Film Council is 100% committed to driving forward the diversity agenda and making real progress -- both within our own organization and across the whole of the sector. But everyone in film has to play their part; we can only make progress by working together."

The Film Council reported that while the U.K. population includes 4.6 million (9%) from minority ethnic groups, they make up only 1.6% of the film and video production work force. It said that while women make up 77% of cinema cleaners, they only account for 10% of camera people and 8% of lighting technicians. It said an analysis by the British Film Institute showed that women directed only eight out of 350 U.K. films in recent years.

The Film Council listed six goals: to champion diversity; create a business culture that would attract the best people from the widest possible pool of talent; move diversity issues from the periphery to the center of activities; provide practical tools and information; establish new entry points and career paths; and set targets and indicators to measure the strategy's success.

Its proposals included setting up a new code of practice relating to under-represented groups in the industry; schemes to broaden funding and school programs with a targeted marketing campaign; and ways to use fiscal policy and co-production treaties to bolster diversity.

Marcia Williams, Film Council head of diversity, said that besides being a good general principle, there were sound business reasons for establishing greater inclusion in the film industry. "Studies have shown that there is a direct link between good diversity policies and improved performance in organizations," Williams said.

Films minister Estelle Morris called on the industry as a whole to follow the Film Council's lead. "Art holds up a mirror to reality. That's why this strategy is so important -- because the film industry should fully reflect the rich diversity of our culture, both in front of and behind the camera," Morris said. "It must be open to every section of society."

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