Our Culture Handbook

Our people are our greatest strength – we can only thrive if we all work together to create the right conditions to thrive within.

Our Culture Handbook will help us do just that. Co-created by our people, we’ve captured who we are and how we do it, and established a set of Culture Drivers and principles for working together that give you a clear idea of what good looks like.

It’s not an exhaustive list by any means and nor is it intended to be – our culture evolves as we do, the handbook is intended to inform and inspire you as we go.

Our culture is up to each and every one of us to build. It’s everyone’s responsibility and within everyone’s power to influence and change. Let’s build a place we’re proud to call our own.

Who we are and why we’re here

Our purpose is the ‘why’ behind why we do what we do.

It adds meaning to our work by capturing both the benefit we deliver and the change we want to create in the world.

Our purpose

We believe society needs stories.

Film, television and the moving image bring them to life, helping us to connect and understand each other better. We share the stories of yesterday, search for the stories of today, and shape the stories of tomorrow.

Our purpose statement is supported by five pillars…


Society needs stories

Society needs stories and moving image brings them to life, helping us all see the world through different lenses and better understand each other.


Stand for choice and for difference

To champion over 100 years of moving image, in all its forms, to create the greatest possible choice, access and opportunity, for all and for good.


Keep moving image culture vibrant

To shape moving image culture, stretch the industry and inspire future talent’s artistic evolution, the possibilities of storytelling and our artform.


Help people get more out of it

To put moving image at the heart of our cultural lives for all to discover and delight in. Use it to teach us about the past, present, and future.


To bring people closer together

To use the transformative power of moving image for social good. To tell stories and start conversations that bring people and communities closer together.

Our mission

We are a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image.

Our mission is:

To support creativity and actively seek out the next generation of UK storytellers.

To grow and care for the BFI National Archive, the world’s largest film and television archive.

To offer the widest range of UK and international moving image culture through our programmes and festivals – delivered online and in venue.

To use our knowledge to educate and deepen public appreciation and understanding of film and the moving image.

To work with Government and industry to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s screen industries.

Our vision

By focusing on the diversity of our audiences, expanding our work to embrace television and games, reframing the public’s relationship with the BFI’s collections, investing in the growth of our digital platforms and working with industry to deliver long-term strategies for education & skills and net zero – we will transform access to our programmes, screen culture, and jobs across the whole of the UK.

Our culture

We’re building an innovative, highly diverse and digital organisation with creative storytelling at its heart. A place of real passion and fandom, where everyone can go confidently, think freely, share generously and bring it together.

Go confidently

We listen and learn to lead. Challenging constructively and matching words with action to stretch our artform, shape the industry and create meaningful change.

What does that mean in practice?

We’re confident but humble

We speak up if we know the answer, but we’re also the first to admit it if we don’t.

We listen and learn to lead

Asking for help if we need it and consulting others. We base decisions on evidence and reliably put actions behind words.

We challenge constructively

In a coaching culture where giving and receiving feedback feels safe, positive and mutually beneficial.

We’re ambitious

For ourselves, our artform and the industry. We work hard to stay at the cutting edge and draw inspiration from internal and external sources to expand our artform.

We’re driven

To make a positive difference every day and help others to do the same – always bringing solutions over problems and suggestions over grumbles.

Think freely

We unleash our creativity and work flexibly. We stay curious and light on our feet, taking smart risks to bring joy to our audiences.

What does that mean in practice?

We work creatively

Giving each other freedom to explore and experiment to find new and different ways to drive creativity and take creative approaches.

We stay curious

With a mindset of learning it all, not knowing it all. Receptive to difference, we seek out new points of view and work with an open mind.

We’re proactive and plan realistically

We work hard to meet the needs of our audiences, stakeholders and partners with care, attention and foresight.

We’re nimble

We go in small steps, testing early and learning fast. We balance intense sprints with time to pause, reflect and recognise to help creativity flourish.

We take smart risks

Knowing when to go fast and when to go slow, to balance pace with quality and seize opportunity to build a prosperous screen sector.

Share generously

We build expertise and share it. Like an enthusiastic friend, we exchange ideas and democratise thoughtfully to create extraordinary experiences for everyone, not an elite.

What does that mean in practice?

We aim for expert

In everything we do, we’re devoted to building our knowledge and helping others build theirs.

We simplify, decode and democratise

So moving image culture can be accessed, enjoyed and understood by all.

We’re generous and kind

With our knowledge, using it to help others discover and progress – but also to save colleagues’ time and avoid duplication.

We’re approachable

Thoughtful about how we deepen public appreciation and understanding, never imposing ‘our way of doing things’ onto others or bringing ‘ego’ into it.

We’re understanding

We don’t judge, we listen empathetically, learn and support.

Bring it together

We go as one. Actively including and empowering, with trust and transparency at all levels. We pull in and pull together – all in, all heard – to create greatest possible access and opportunity.

What does that mean in practice?

We’re collaborative by default

Team players starting with joint goals, inviting the right people to the right conversations and aiming for collective success not solo glory.

We’re actively inclusive

Consciously looking out for and addressing bias to create an equality of experience (we know that it’s down to all of us to nurture this).

We share information freely

We make decisions transparently. We seek out and give clarity when it’s not there to keep everyone ‘in the know’.

We empower each other

So everyone feels seen, heard and valued. We invest in each other’s growth, by empowering them to take ownership, speak up and succeed.

We trust others and earn it back

We build trust by doing what we say we will and sending mindful communications.

How we organise ourselves

We work as teams within 7 departments.

CEO Office

Owns our corporate strategy, the development of the BFI brand, culture and values – including diversity & inclusion and our commitments to anti-racism. Responsible for corporate governance and Board engagement.

Knowledge and Collections

The BFI National Archive, home of our cultural leadership and our intellectual heart. Responsible for our collections strategy and ensuring growth of public access, developing academic partnerships, creating and sharing of data and knowledge assets.

Public Programmes and Audiences

The editorial core of the BFI, determining how we engage with the public. Responsible for growing and diversifying our audiences across the UK and internationally, and determining the strategy for our platforms, programming, outreach and education work.

Fundraising and Enterprise

Responsible for growing income for the BFI through fundraising, entrepreneurial activities and commercial partnerships, with oversight of the ladder of giving and our B2B activities.

Finance, People and Business Operations

Ensuring our financial health and development of our people. Leading the functions which underpin the prosperity of the BFI, our beneficiaries and our partners – with a focus on finance, people and performance.

Technology and Transformation

Agents for change with a focus on making the BFI ‘digital-first’. Leading transformational change across the BFI – to improve user access, grow revenues and create greater agility and efficiencies in how we work.

Corporate and Industry Affairs

Growing the UK’s success as a global leader in screen industry and talent. Leading on policy, insight and strategy development, corporate & internal comms, and our support for skills, talent and content.