The cinema and the public: a critical analysis of the origin, constitution, and control of the British Film Institute (1934)

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means of entertainment and instruction " ; and was to be made up of a certain proportion—not to exceed 5 per cent., and subsequently prescribed at that figure by the Home Secretary—of such amounts as the various local licensing authorities might decide should be allotted to charity out of the receipts at Sunday cinemas. At the time the Fund was established, there were many, both inside Parliament and outside, who were convinced that the time had come, if it were not indeed overdue, for this vast form of entertainment—the Cinema—with its twenty million attendances every week in the British Isles,* and its great and growing influence, particularly over the immature, to be in some way freed from a control which had, from its beginning, been almost exclusively commercial, and directed more in accordance with the interests of the nation as a whole. By almost all of these—however greatly their views differed regarding the Act's other Clauses, or indeed its general purpose—the establishment of a special Government-supervised Fund for this purpose was warmly welcomed. It seemed to afford the Privy Council, whose administration of similar funds for medical and scientific research had already raised those activities on to a new level of public usefulness, a fine opportunity to give the cinema the same sort of new national and constructive orientation. As to the most effective organisation, or group of organisations, through which this might be done ;. as to whether such organisation or organisations already existed, or would have to be created, and, if so, in what form and under what control, there was, and still is, great difference of opinion. * The figure given by Mr. Simon Rowson, President of the British Kinematograph Society, in a recent address to the Royal Empire Society. The amount paid by the public each year into the cinemas- of Great Britain alone, he said, was approximately £43,000,000. Page 10