The Joys of a young Artist

With the hard economic climate, it is unsurprising that funding for the Arts has been dwindling. Personally, as a young film-maker, I have watched with worry as funding for great companies such as the BFI deplete. The BFI have also taken away their internship programme, with it being found that interns were being given the workload of paid workers, without the pay, which many saw as exploitation. Moves like this bring worry for young people hoping to make it, as they see potential avenues start to disappear.

It becomes even more infuriating when the lack of help being offered by government institutions is viewed first hand. A few months ago I, as part of a production by the Film Festival Society, got in contact with Brighton council about getting a permit to film there. I stated that we would be a crew of a handful of people, all students, making in some cases our first film with a minimal budget. Despite this, they insisted we pay a £50 fee, which they claimed would go to covering the many admin costs that attaining the permit would cover. Dissappointing, but understandable I thought, and not a totally ridiculous sum.
Come day of filming, and……no permit has arrived. I call them, and they apologise, and say they will email it to me imminently. Within a couple minutes, I have received the permit via email, and I realise here that all attaining the permit involved was….someone pressing two or three buttons. How this cost £50 I’ll never know, with it seeming pretty obvious the money did not go to helping them break even, but rather likely being a source of profit. But oh well, everyone has to get by, at least we can make our film with no trouble now, right?

Wrong. After finishing filming I attained the invoice for the permit on the 18th of June. By the 26th of June, it had been paid. However, I started getting letters to my door about an outstanding debt. So I contacted Brighton, and informed them of their mistake. They asked for proof, so I provided every single little bit of detail they needed (of which they were many), at which they informed me that yes, I did indeed pay them, and that I can ignore the letters, and consider the matter resolved.

Wrong. At the start of December I received a letter. A summons to court for the £50 fee I had not paid. The letter took great pains to explain to me that this process of going to court would stay on my permanent record (surely affecting future job opportunities) and seriously hurt my credit rating (surely affecting my future financial situation). So here I was, seeing a future before me where I would find it harder to get a job, where I may be refused for credit cards, loans and mortgages, and all because of a £50 fee (that had been paid) so that someone could send me an email. The matter may have been resolved, with three grovelling emails of apology, but it really does come to highlight the lack of help there currently is for the Arts.