Film and digital media support in the region faces a major shake-up after the Government announced plans to merge the eight separate screen agencies including Screen WM.

Regional screen agencies throughout the country will be combined into a single national body – called Creative England – with three new hubs in the north, the Midlands and the south.

The location of the new centres has not been announced, but the Government promised a consultation with the industry in the New Year before producing a business plan for Creative England.

In a speech to leading figures in the industry at Bafta’s offices in London, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said: “For ten years the regional screen agencies have supported filmmakers and filmmaking across England, as well as developing new audiences for cinema.

“But they recognise that eight separate agencies, each with its own administration and back-office costs is no longer sensible or sustainable.

“They will now re-configure themselves as a single national body, Creative England, chaired by John Newbigin, with three hubs in the north, Midlands and south.

“These will continue to support new talent and new businesses wherever they are located, building on their intimate knowledge of the cities and regions in which they have been based.”

Screen WM currently runs several funds for the film and digital industries in the West Midlands, including the Film & Media Production Fund, which can invest up to £500,000 in feature film production in the West Midlands.

A large portion of its funds are run with support from Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency which is due to be scrapped by 2012, meaning there has been a question mark over its future direction for several months.

Suzie Norton, chief executive of Screen WM said: “Screen WM is pleased that the new Creative England structure has been decided, and we look forward to working with the other screen agencies to form the three hubs of Creative North, Central and South.

“We are confident that this new framework will support our local film and screen-related sectors, whilst also delivering for the wider creative industries which we have been engaged with for some time.

“We have already shown in the past eight years that we can generate key economic growth in our local creative sectors by providing the right businesses with targeted support.

“We look forward to being able to continue this work under the Creative England banner, and will share further details with the industry as they are confirmed in due course.”