Although it had been funding British experimental films as early as 1952, the British Film Institute's foundation of a production board in 1964—and a substantial increase in public funding from 1971 onwards—enabled it to become a dominant force in developing British art cinema in the 1970s and 80s: from the first of Bill Douglas's Trilogy My Childhood (1972), and of Terence Davies' Trilogy Childhood (1978), via Peter Greenaway's earliest films (including the surprising commercial success of The Draughtsman's Contract (1982)) and Derek Jarman's championing of the New Queer Cinema. The first full-length feature produced under the BFI's new scheme was Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo's Winstanley (1975), while others included Moon Over the Alley (1975), Requiem for a Village (1975), the openly avant-garde Central Bazaar (1973), Pressure (1975) and A Private Enterprise (1974) -- the last two being, respectively, the first British Black and Asian features.
The release of Derek Jarman's Jubilee (1978) marked the beginning of a successful period of UK art cinema, continuing into the 1980s with film-makers like Sally Potter. Unlike the previous generation of British film makers who had broken into directing and production after careers in the theatre or on television the Art Cinema Directors were mostly the products of Art Schools. Many of these film-makers were championed in their early career by the London Film Makers Cooperative and their work was the subject of detailed theoretical analysis in the journal Screen Education. Peter Greenaway was an early pioneer of the use of computer generated imagery blended with filmed footage and was also one of the first directors to film entirely on high definition video for a cinema release.
With the launch of Channel 4 and its Film on Four commissioning strand Art Cinema was promoted to a wider audience. However the Channel had a sharp change in its commissioning policy in the early nineties and the likes of Jarman and Greenaway were forced to seek European co-production financing. Ken Russell and Nicolas Roeg were two other directors whose highly personal visual styles and narrative themes might class them as 'Art Cinema'. They also struggled to finance their productions during the 1990s.
The spread of music videos now means there is a steady demand for emerging talent without the requirements of seeking feature film funding. Julien Temple and John Maybury are two examples of this. Also the widespread acceptance of video art as a form has made it possible for British artists such as Sam Taylor-Wood and Isaac Julien to make film works outside of the demands of cinema exhibition.