The Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and two filmhouses have ceased trading with immediate effect after the charity behind them fell into administration.
Staff at the Edinburgh Filmhouse and Aberdeen’s Belmont Filmhouse heard the news on Thursday morning when the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) appointed administrators in a move blamed on a “perfect storm” of “sharply increasing costs”, reduced audiences following the pandemic and the rising cost of living.
A total 102 members of staff across CMI, Edinburgh Filmhouse, Belmont Filmhouse and EIFF were made redundant with immediate effect, with five staff retained to assist with the administration process.
Tom MacLennan and Chad Griffin, partners with FRP Advisory, have been appointed joint administrators.
The CMI board said that they were left with “no other option” than to appoint administrators following difficult and deteriorating trading conditions.
The charity had become heavily reliant on various government-backed emergency funding packages and support measures during the pandemic however audience figures failed to recover and are down by more than 50% since pre-Covid.
The businesses have more recently been severely affected by the widely documented problems of escalating operating costs and overheads with soaring energy charges and inflation adding to unsustainable cash flow problems and debt with administration being the only option.
A spokesman for the board of the CMI added: “The board is proud to have led the CMI through incredibly challenging times in particular during the worst days of the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, the combination of sharply increasing energy and other costs, together with the lasting impacts of the pandemic and the rapidly emerging cost of living crisis affecting cinema attendances means that we have had no other option but to appoint administrators.
“We would like to put on record our immense gratitude to the entire staff team whose passion for film as an artform and for the audiences and communities we work with and serve has remained undented by the challenges of recent years. We’re fully aware that this will be an exceptionally stressful time for them.”
The joint administrators will now focus on marketing the assets for sale, including the iconic Edinburgh Filmhouse building on Lothian Road.
Joint administrator Mr MacLennan said: “CMI was central to the development and promotion of Scotland’s thriving film industry and the catalyst behind many learning, cultural and development initiatives that widened the enjoyment and reach of film across Scotland.
“Unfortunately, CMI and its three subsidiary businesses have been severely affected by a wide range of factors that have rendered all businesses unsustainable and administration was the only option.
“We are hopeful that businesses already operating in the film industry or entrepreneurs looking to enter the film industry will be encouraged to register their interest in the assets.”
CMI said that even with the recently announced energy price cap for businesses, bills were rising by about £200,000 over the next 12 months.
The price cap is only in place for six months and planning for beyond March 2023 was described as “highly uncertain”.
Payroll costs are also due to increase by just over 10% in the coming year, but the charity said public funding “has been standstill or reducing for over eight years and had been reducing in real terms value throughout that period”.
It said surveys have found “only 57% of cinema audiences have come back to the cinema since the pandemic, with older audiences less likely to have returned”.
The CMI added the increasing popularity of streaming services has given people “greater choice of what to watch at home, and has led to people getting out of the habit of coming to the cinema”, while the cost of living has affected people’s spending decisions.
The collapse comes weeks after the EIFF’s 75th anniversary. It was established in 1947, making it the world’s oldest continually running film festival.
Huston, Gene Kelly, Jennifer Lawrence, Tilda Swinton, Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, David Cronenberg and Cate Blanchett have attended its events.
The festival has also screened a host of UK premieres, including movies such as Blade Runner, Alien, Back To The Future, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, Withnail & I, The Usual Suspects, Amelie and The Hurt Locker.
Addressing the announcement from CMI during First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said the closures are of “huge concern” and will leave many “profoundly upset”.
The Scottish Government will do “everything possible” to support the impacted organisations, she added.
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