Article: 2019-20 highlights from the Film Audience Network

As cinemas look forward to reopening, we take a moment to celebrate and reflect on some of the collective achievements from the UK wide Film Audience Network (FAN) in 2019-20, the last full year of operation before lockdown.

With the support of a £1.4 million investment in audience facing activity in 2019-20, FAN members from across the UK collectively presented 11,500 screenings resulting in 507,147 admissions including an impressive 42% who were new to the FAN member venue or event.

In the context of a UK market dominated by US studio films, it’s worth noting that 67% of those FAN film screenings bucked that trend and were of non-mainstream films.

Audiences were very positive about their experience of FAN members’ events with 97% of those surveyed stating that their experience was good or very good and that it improved their access to cultural film.

With young people at the heart of the BFI 2022 strategy, it’s encouraging to see that FAN members succeeded in connecting with that age group with 22% of audiences surveyed at FAN members events aged 16 – 30.

Reflecting the wider societal challenges which were brought into sharp focus last year, the FAN membership still has a way to go in developing how it engages specific target groups across its UK wide offer. However, figures from 2019-20 showed that targeted FAN members’ initiatives were effective in connecting with diverse communities. For example, across 49 FAN projects focussed on underrepresented ethnic groups, the percentage of audiences that identified as being from those target groups was much higher for these events at 35%.

Supported by National Lottery funding, the growing FAN network is at the heart of the BFI’s strategy for developing more diverse audiences for independent UK and international film across the UK and building the resilience of the independent film exhibition sector. In 2019-20, more than 100 new organisations joined FAN which now has over 1,300 members ranging from cinemas, festivals, multi-arts venues, community cinemas, pop-up event organisers and film archives.

Thanks to the amazing work of FAN members across the UK in 2019-20, more people were able to experience diverse films where they live.

For more insights on what FAN achieved, take a look at this FAN Highlights 2019-20 report (Word version available here)

As cinemas prepare to reopen their doors from 18th May onwards, FAN will continue to connect and support independent regional film exhibitors as they transition back to a viable and sustainable way of operating in the months ahead. To that end, we are delighted that the FAN Exhibition Fund will reopen in early April 2021 to support activity to re-engage audiences with collective, big screen film experiences at film festivals, mixed arts venues, and both community and traditional cinemas. The fund is open to FAN member organisations. If you are not yet signed up as a member (it’s free to join), get in touch with your local film hub.

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