Monday, 14 February 2011

A Farewell to Screen Yorkshire and inward investment?

The problem with cuts is they just remove expenditure.

To reduce debt, you have to do a whole lot more than cut costs. In fact, cutting costs can result in further problems down the line.

Screen Yorkshire is a case in point as it sees its funding under threat. As the BAFTAs bestow accolades on films made with Screen Yorkshire’s help, the organisation is looking at shutting its doors. The Kings Speech used the Odsall Stadium and Elland Road.

The end of Yorkshire Forward would always see a number of the regional development organisations biting the dust – but at what costs?

Some of Yorkshire Forward’s funded bodies might have been a white elephant than a great white hope, but Screen Yorkshire has been a net contributor to the region’s economy.

I haven’t all the figures, but the last report suggests £70.6 million invested in the region as a result of the organisation between 2006 and 2009. I’d heard a figure of £82 million, suggesting a further £11.5 million being invested in the last year.
The investment from Screen Yorkshire last year was £5 million.

So we save £5 million and potentially lose around £10 million. Add to this the tourists brought to the region and the knock on effect of having associated businesses busy with supporting the film crews, and the benefits are probably greater.

Not all the filming will cease but it will make a big dent into the region’s film economy, already suffering from the centralisation of TV production.

The funding is difficult to directly replace as the ‘benefits’ don’t come in a big cash sum paid into the bank. Private capital won’t get the 100% return in the same way that the region’s businesses and councils benefit from the money spent across the region.

So we trust Manchester and London based organisations to represent Yorkshire? Would they be more likely to promote a cobbled street in Salford or Bradford? A railway arch in Brixton or Leeds? Or maybe the loss of support sees films moved out of the UK altogether?

If the financial side didn’t add up, fair enough, but we need small businesses to grow through investment and prosper. This is the only way we can stimulate the economy to get business booming again. The tax take increases and we can start to pay off the debts of the past government.

Yorkshire has a fine tradition of film making from Louis Le Prince to Billy Lair; from This Sporting Life to The Railway Children and from Brassed Off to Four Lions. The loss of Screen Yorkshire wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of this heritage, but it certainly would make it harder for the next Yorkshire blockbuster.

For more information on Screen Yorkshire, click here.

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