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December

London Sees Huge Growth in Appetite for Heritage Film

Date posted: 14.12.2012

On behalf of London's Screen Archives, Film London has conducted a major survey of the capital's archive moving image holdings and how they are used, with development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Over 120 London organisations took part in the research and results show a huge appetite for connecting London audiences with their film heritage. The survey also indentifies areas the LSA, with support from Film London, still need to invest in to improve the sector and exploit the wealth of archive content in the city.

Participants ranged from small local archives to large national museums and also included cinemas, festivals and community groups. Over 70% of respondents reported successfully using archive film for public events in the last year, and 100% wished to use moving image collections for future events and projects.

A variety of benefits in using heritage film was cited, including being utilised for education events that successfully engaged young people, through to reminiscence sessions for older people and dementia suffers. In addition, 97% of respondents felt that their archive film could or did build interest in their wider heritage offer, while a small number has generated income from licensing footage to commercial or media companies.

The results marks a significant change from 2004 when the last regional survey was carried out - which found the majority of organisations were unable to use their materials as they were not in an accessible format and due to a lack of expertise.

These results show that the LSA with Film London, has successfully worked to develop the region's film heritage sector and the responses widely credit it as having a direct and positive impact. Over 50% of respondents had collections digitised by LSA's recent Screen Heritage UK investment (SHUK) programme while 84% of respondents say they receive their specialist advice in collections care from LSA. SHUK was delivered in partnership with the BFI, Screen Yorkshire and the English regional film archives.

Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, commented it was "gratifying to see that we have achieved so much through the London's Screen Archives network and how far the city's archives have come in the last 10 years."

However, the survey also highlighted ongoing problems for the capital's screen heritage. It indentified a need for further injection of skills and training, especially to meet the challenges of the digital age.

The survey results have been used to the LSA's strategic priorities moving forward. It is seeking funding for a major new initiative to share films more widely with more Londoners and aims to build a sustainable sector and collect new films to broaden the range of material available in collections. The LSA is also looking to widen its pool of expertise by inviting new representatives to join its steering group, having already diversified its membership in carrying out the survey.

"The results of this survey have confirmed that the material is out there and in urgent need of investment to make it usable by the public, schools and researchers" said Chair of London's Screen Archives, Dr Cathy Ross. "The LSA has got a lot of work to do to get funds into the sector and provide the professional support required, but our strategic priorities are very clear and we're looking forward to delivering new projects and partnerships for the region."

Read the full results for the LSA 2012 survey.

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