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UK kids content industry calls for Youth Fund extension

Hundreds of industry stakeholders have signed an open letter calling for the kids-content pilot project to be extended.
February 28, 2022

More than 750 creatives and business executives from the kids content industry have signed an open letter to the UK government campaigning to keep the British Film Institute’s Youth Audience Content Fund (YACF) open.

The US$62-million fund is a three-year pilot project that launched in 2018 to support the development of new kids programming. Slated to end in March, YACF helped develop 144 projects, 55 of which received broadcast commissions. A few examples of these projects are Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (Channel 4), The World According to Grandpa (Milkshake!) and CITV’s Makeaway Takeaway (pictured).

The open letter campaign calls for the fund to be restored for another three years in order to support youth with quality homegrown content in the wake of the pandemic

The fund has already faced cuts—it was reduced from US$80 million to US$62 million last year following a review by the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). And despite the outcry, it will end as scheduled in March.

“This three-year pilot scheme to test a new way of financing public service TV and radio content will finish in March as intended, and we will conduct a full evaluation,” said a DCMS spokesperson in a statement to Kidscreen. “We are undertaking a wider review of public service broadcasting to ensure it remains relevant and can continue to meet the needs of UK audiences.”

This has left producers and creators wondering why a successful program is being shuttered, and how the funding will be replaced, if at all.

“YACF has been substantial and can be earmarked as a success, as it did what it was set up to do,” says Tom van Waveren, former CEO and creative director at London-based CAKE Distribution. “The content that was produced and developed with support from the fund increased the amount of public service content aimed at children and youth in the UK on broadcast platforms other than the BBC channels.”

UK animation studios will be particularly vulnerable without the dedicated fund, because the country’s public service broadcasters aren’t spending as much money on animation as they are on live-action projects, says Kate O’Connor, executive chair of Animation UK, which represents studios, producers and distributors in the country.

“YACF has increased output through the public service broadcasters, stimulated new investment from the broadcasters, and in just a few years, delivered quality content for the audience, as well as being beneficial for producers and animation studios,” says O’Connor.

Small indie companies could also find it harder to get a show developed now, says Keith Chapman, the creator of PAW Patrol and Bob the Builder. “[YACF] helped to finance development on many kids TV projects, encouraging creativity and giving much needed help to many studios,” he says. “Without it, studios will again find it harder to finance their projects. That might mean missing out on discovering the next billion-dollar break-out hit show.”

About The Author
News editor for Kidscreen. Ryan covers tech, talent and general kids entertainment news, with a passion for kids rap content and video games. Have a story that's of interest to Kidscreen readers? Contact Ryan at rtuchow@brunico.com

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