Professor Mattias Frey, Head of Film and Media Studies at the School of Arts, has described the role of film and TV in people’s lives during 2020 as ‘significant’. Their ability to help improve mental health and maintain social connections also reinforces the campaign for continued arts funding and support. He said:
‘Television, so the old saw goes, is a window to the world. However, in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic (with social distancing, travel restrictions and lockdowns), television, film and other screen media have become so much more than that. They represent for many people a social lifeline and a tool for mental health maintenance.
‘The numbers of new video-on-demand subscribers bear this out. Netflix membership rose by nearly 50 million in the past 12 months; Disney+ emerged to garner over 80 million customers in less than one year.
‘But perhaps the best case for supporting film and other media production in these dark times is qualitative rather than quantitative. Arts and culture provide mental stimulation, fodder for personal development, and a springboard for discussion and social connection.
‘My recent research, including a survey of over two thousand UK residents, demonstrates that despite rising consumption of stay-at-home video-on-demand services like Netflix, the social function of films and series has not abated. Indeed, in a world in which traditional institutional networks such as church and trade union membership has declined, this aspect may be more important than ever. Sharing tips, tastes and experiences of film and television programming with family, friends and acquaintances (both on- and offline) is a key way that we reveal something about ourselves and learn about others.
‘In a socially distanced world, funding film and media production – and keeping cinemas, theatres, galleries and the wider arts and creative industries alive to reemerge soon – is vital for our health as human beings.’
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