That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Who needs lights and cameras anyway?

In terms of film, Britain is lined up to become more famous for the ubiquity of its CCTV than for its cinematic output – with the axeing of the UK Film Council today.

UK Film Council to be abolished

The organisation, founded in 2000, had an annual budget of £15m to invest in British films and employed 75 people.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he wanted to establish a “direct and less bureaucratic relationship with the British Film Institute”.

UK Film Council chairman Tim Bevan called it “a bad decision”.

He said the announcement was “imposed without any consultation or evaluation”.

“People will rightly look back on today’s announcement and say it was a big mistake, driven by short-term thinking and political expediency,” he said.

So £15 million will be saved, or in other words, the annual cost of the Queen’s housekeeping. But what will be lost?

Part of me worries that the Coalition Government has made this decision, not just to save money, but out of flat disregard for the quality, strength and visibility of British arts and culture. An ideological vision from the conservative right which suggests that any British filmmaker who’s any good should just make better films (and, if necessary, ask their folks for a loan).

But then, maybe we shouldn’t worry – after all, we are now living in a Big Society. The government must trust that, by liquidating the national agency responsible for promoting and investing in the UK’s film industry, they are now empowering us. Now, independently organised collections of YouTubers and self-styled experts and critics can craft a volunteerist Film Council instead! We don’t need public agencies anymore: we just need the public, without any agency but spare time, to take up the slack left by a retreating state.

Empowered by the Big Society, do I dare declare myself today the new President of what I’ll call The Real Righteous National Council for Awesome British Flicks? Anybody want to join? Fortnightly meetings at my local pub. Fish and chips, pints of ale, and big, big responsibilities.

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