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Southport & Mersey Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 15 October 2007

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WITH UK cinema-goers becoming more adventurous in their cinema tastes, according to latest box office statistics, the region’s screen agency, Northwest Vision and Media, is to offer audiences an even greater choice.  Vision and Media has pledged over £300,000 in funding to give Northwest film fans even greater choice when they go to the cinema.

According to the UK Film Council, people are now craving foreign language films and specialized movies.  So that’s why Vision and Media’s annual Heritage, Access to Film and Audience Development (HAFAD) programme is now looking for new, diverse organisations to help deliver the sort of films Northwest audiences now demand.

"As a regional screen agency we’re well known for the work we do supporting the Northwest’s production industry, but we also work tirelessly to try and give the region’s audiences more choice,” explains Alice Morrison, Chief Executive of Vision and Media, which works on behalf of the region’s TV, film, radio and digital content industries.  “Every year we plough hundreds of thousands of pounds into projects which give Northwest audiences an even greater choice of what to watch when they decide to go to the cinema.  Perhaps they might want to watch a film made 100 years ago – which has been preserved through the film archive projects we support.  Or it might mean we get more children to love cinema, through the film education work we fund,” adds Alice.

Vision and Media also fund numerous training schemes for people hoping to work in the film industry. “There are training programmes held throughout the year, specifically designed to help people get a foot in the door,” explains Alice.  “It’s through our HAFAD fund that we’re continuously developing and supporting creativity and skills across the industry, as well as encouraging public participation in film.”

In recent months, HAFAD funding has helped to deliver a host of exceptional films to Northwest audiences, to which people wouldn’t usually have access. The Oscar winner The Last King Of Scotland and Cannes Palme d'or winner, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, were among some of he films shown in the Northwest this year, together with new releases such as Tell No One and Shane Ritchie's This is England.

“Our aim has always been to develop wider audiences, increase access and promote the Northwest as a centre of excellence for film, television and digital content that is not only culturally diverse, but educational and inclusive, too,” says Alice.

Last year, over £300,000 in funding was distributed to a range of projects. This year, three core areas of activity are being encouraged: Heritage, Access to Film and Audience Development Projects.  Cinemas that run a year-round, culturally diverse film programme will be eligible to apply for funding of between £5,000 and £110,000, money which will contribute to programmes that include specialised screenings, festivals activity and film education initiatives.  Film Festivals are also offered support through HAFAD, with Vision and Media helping to develop a sustainable and innovative program of unique festival events within the region.

“Through the Audience Development part of HAFAD we help to produce a sustainable and innovative year-round program of events across the region,” explains Alice.

Within the Heritage category of the fund, awards will be made with attention given to finding locations (or a centralised location) in the region for the presentation, storage and exhibition of archived film.

The Access To Film strand of HAFAD aims to help people from previously disadvantaged communities who have not previously had access to filmmaking to create work of the highest quality. Organisations will be eligible for awards of between £5,000 to £20,000, with Vision and Media particularly looking for work that will encourage individuals with distinct, new voices.

* The deadline for 2008/2009 applications is 1pm Monday 3 December 2007. For more details, visit the Vision and Media website.

* Applications are eligible from legally constituted organisations operating within Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside.

* For further information, please email

Boost for medical research to drive innovation in health

THE Medical Research Council will receive almost £2 billion to help keep the UK at the forefront of medical advances it was announced.  Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS), John Denham, outlined how the Science Budget will be allocated for the next 3 years, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Advances such as the discovery of penicillin, the link between smoking and cancer and the development of MRI scanning took place in the UK. A funding rise of 30% over the next 3 years for medical research will provide a major boost to the impact of research on the nation's health.  A major new research programme to tackle environmental change and more funding to help strengthen links between business and academia to drive Britain's economic success are also key elements in a bold new plan for science funding.

The overall Science Budget will increase from £3.4 billion per year in 2007/8 to almost £4 billion per year by 2010/11 - taking Government support for the UK's research base to its highest level ever.  The funding boost will ensure that the UK retains its place as a hub for global scientific excellence, drawing in the finest British and international research talent. It will also further increase the economic and social impact of research, from healing severe wounds more effectively, or helping research cures for deadly illnesses, right through to combating credit card fraud with new technology or developing low-carbon alternatives to help the environment.

Mr Denham said:- "DIUS funding supports world class research and its exploitation. We link the research base and business so that Britain can be the best place in the world for enterprise and innovation.  My announcement will enable the UK to maintain its world leading position in research excellence and to build up even stronger exploitation. In doing so we will build a strong economy and a cohesive society that can meet the global challenges of the 21st century.

Scientific discoveries have transformed the lives of all of us. This allocation provides researchers with the resources to help translate research into new drugs and treatments which could have an impact right across society. This funding boost raises the impact that science has on the economy and public services."

Key allocations include:
* Funding for a number of multi-disciplinary research programmes including:

- a major contribution to the £1 billion programme "Living with Environmental Change" which brings together over a dozen organisations; and

- an exciting new research programme on "Life-Long Health and Well Being" which explores the biological, physical, environmental and social factors associated with the ageing process at all stages of life;

- increased investment in key areas of national importance, such as energy research and stem cells.

* Almost £2bn for medical research over three years to fund both basic and translational research in line with the recommendations in Sir David Cooksey's report on health research.

* A boost to funding for knowledge transfer programmes, including the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) which will receive £150m a year by 2010/11 to strengthen links between academia and business and help take research to the market.

* £120m funding commitment from the Research Councils for collaboration with the Technology Strategy Board to promote strengthened links between researchers and business and the development of innovative new technology. This forms part of the £1bn strategy to drive business innovation and success announced on 5 October 2007 alongside the Sainsbury Review.

* Increasing the budget for the successful Science Bridges scheme to £12m to foster stronger links with international researchers alongside the International Fellowships run by the National Academies. This will help forge stronger links with the US, China, and India in particular.

* A new Capital Investment Fund is being created for universities carrying out Research Council funded projects.

This permanent funding stream replaces the temporary Science Research Investment Fund programme which has successfully completed its task of making good the backlog in investment in research infrastructure. The new fund will help Universities maintain their research infrastructure and avoid the backlog problem reoccurring.

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