Producer Tony Buckley has written to Arts Minister George Brandis and NSW Premier Mike Baird urging both governments to fund a new, custom-built headquarters for the National Film and Sound Archive.
A former council member of the NFSA and a screen industry practitioner for 60 years, Buckley points out the institution is the only federally-funded arts museum/ archive that has never had a purpose-built home.
“Walking into the Archive [in Canberra] is somewhat akin to walking into the foyer of an up-market funeral parlour,” he writes. “The place is totally user-unfriendly. The Archive is deserving of something better.”
Buckley welcomes the Archive’s ongoing consultations with industry and public on its draft strategic plan but he calls for a long-term vision that includes a new base, preferably in Sydney.
He suggests the heritage-listed White Bay Power Station as the ideal venue, funded as a Federal/ State initiative with financial support from the screen industry.
That location would be a “great public space for permanent and contemporary exhibitions of Australian film, radio and television, with purpose-built facilities in the grounds for conservation and preservation of the materials pertaining to these three arms of our culture,” Buckley said.
“We must not forget we did make the world’s first feature film (1906’s The Story of the Kelly Gang) and the remnants of that film deserve a great home, open to all. If the Power Station is deemed unsuitable for whatever reason, then a completely new building should be designed and built.
“Yes it will cost money, but I believe it is the way to a Federal/State partnership with a vision to make this happen, along with substantial contributions from the motion picture and television industries, which have done quite well over a very long period of time. Now it is time for to give something back.
“There are some great film museum/cinematheques in the world. We should and could have the greatest.””
Buckley has circulated his case to screen industry executives aiming to drum up support for the campaign.
The federal government has cut the Archive’s budget from $27.07 million last financial year to $25.9 million for each of the next two fiscal years. The allocations beyond that are $25.74 million and $26.01 million.