Introduction to a Conflict
On the first of January 1999 one of the last surviving media collectives of the radical sixties, the London Filmmakers Co-Operative (L.F.M.C.), proudly announced it's merger with London Electronic Arts (established as London Video Arts 1976) to form the Lux Centre for Film, Video and Digital Arts, a unification which was supported by the British state funding agencies: the Arts Council of Great Britain, the British Film Institute (B.F.I.) and the London Film and Video Development Agency (LFVDA ). The purpose built Lux complex originally opened in September 1997 at a cost of 4.5 million pounds from the National Lottery. The complex comprises a cinema, a gallery, offices, editing suites and library/storage space. In its inaugural programme the unified new Lux reaffirmed its commitment to 'Artists film and video' and 'Independent Cinema' and declared that:
'The unification brings together our two international collections of artists' film and video in distribution, with work ranging from Maya Deren to John Maybury creating an unparalleled resource for exhibitors world-wide. Production and education facilities are also centralised, enabling clients and members of each organisation to benefit from expertise across technologies, and facilitating the increasingly varied use of moving image technologies by artists.' 1
What the programme didn't announce was that since its inception the cinema and the L.F.M.C. had been losing money hand over fist and that they were forced into the merger as a condition of the funding agencies saving them from financial ruin. Neither did the programme admit that the merger was only really extinguishing the final vestige of the Film Makers Co-Operative: its name. The L.F.M.C. had not been a Co-Operative since 1995, when as a condition of financing the move to a new building the funding agencies required the L.F.M.C. to abolish it's open access democratic constitution. Since 1995 there were no 'members' of the Co-Op since there was no Co-Op.