Article: BFI National Lottery Open Cinemas pilot project aims to boost attendance at independent cinemas

BFI National Lottery Open Cinemas is a new pilot activity which aims to boost attendance of new audiences at independent cinemas and grow engagement with independent film.

The pilot project will use National Lottery Funding to book cinema screens every month in independent cinemas across the UK. The same film will screen in all participating cinemas on the same day and date to create a regular national moment.

Audiences that are identified as having current low engagement with cinema will be prioritised and invited to attend through targeted marketing and promotion, and the screenings will be available free on a first come first served basis. It is intended that the screenings will be fully accessible to the widest possible audience.

The purpose of this new programme is to break down the barriers that have prevented more audiences from historically engaging with, and enjoying independent films in UK-wide independent cinemas; namely price, accessibility provision and threshold anxiety.

By removing as many of these barriers as possible, we hope to ensure the pilot activity is sincere to both our UK-wide and diversity and inclusion principles by welcoming a broader range of audiences that are representative of the UK population.

BFI is inviting ambitious applications from eligible organisations to manage and deliver this activity and its aims.

Who can apply?

You can apply as either: 

  • a single organisation
  • a partnership of eligible organisations – with one organisation designated as lead applicant in receiving funding

You cannot apply as an individual.

How to apply

You can apply online once you’ve read the funding guidelines in full. There is an application link in the guidelines.

If you have any questions relating to the funding or application, email

We can provide assistance to applicants who have access requirements and need some support in order to make an application. See Access support for BFI funding applicants.

When you can apply

Applications will open on 20 February 2023 with a deadline of midday on 27 March 2023.

Read the fund guidelines in full before applying.

About the National Lottery

Since the very first National Lottery draw in 1994, public support – raised directly through National Lottery ticket sales – has funded more than 670,000 projects, raising more than £46 billion for good causes.

As a recipient, it is important to publicly acknowledge the source of this funding throughout the lifespan of the project. Effectively communicating that it is supported by BFI National Lottery funding ensures that those engaging with the work recognise the value and benefit of this unique Good Cause funding.

Therefore, if your application is successful, you will be responsible for prominently crediting BFI National Lottery funding and thanking National Lottery players.

As such, you are encouraged to ensure that elements of your project which have the potential to engage a broad public audience are capitalised on, in order to communicate this message. More details will be supplied once an award has been made.

Impact Areas

Focus Areas