NFSA, AFTRS budgets trimmed

14 May, 2014 by Don Groves

The National Film and Sound Archive and the Australian Film Television and Radio School have not escaped unscathed from the federal Budget cuts.

Meanwhile, the lack of transparency in a pending restructure of the NFSA has been criticised by producers, directors, writers, actors, academics and journalists.


The NFSA received $27.07 million from the government in the current financial year. That falls to $25.9 million for each of the next two fiscal years. The allocations beyond that are $25.74 million and $26.01 million.

It is not clear how the government’s announcement that $2.4 million will be saved over four years by consolidating the back office functions of a number of Canberra-based collection agencies including the NFSA, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia and Old Parliament House will affect the Archive.

In April, NFSA CEO Michael Loebenstein announced a restructuring entailing shedding jobs and reducing its touring program and the number of events at its Arc cinema in Canberra, blamed on increased operating costs as the archive continues to convert its library to digital.

AFTRS is taking a small cut in funding. It got $24.4 million in the current financial year. That falls by $94,000 to $24.3 million in 2014-2015. Allocations for the following years are $24.15 million, $24.03 million and $24.25 million.

The allegedly secret process of the NFSA restructure has been called into question by Geoff Gardner, a former director of the Melbourne Film Festival, in an open letter to NFSA chair Gabrielle Trainor, copied to Arts Minister George Brandis, Labor's Mark Dreyfus and Greens Leader Senator Milne.

The letter is signed by more than 120 industry figures including Bob Connolly, Tom Zubrycki, Sharon Connolly, Martha Ansara, Anthony Buckley, Sue Milliken, Dominic Case, Ray Argall, Jack Thompson, Rod Quantock, Julie Rigg, Barbara Chobocky, Megan McMurchy, Dr Trevor Graham, Phillip Adams, Murray Forrest, Louis Irving and Jane Oehr.

The letter claims a proposal to reduce staff by more than 10% will lead to the sacking of some of the NFSA’s most experienced managers, administrators and industry-trained professionals. That's despite assurances from the CEO that there would be no forced lay-offs as the workforce is reduced from 206 to 178. 

The signatories demand the immediate public release of the Loebenstein NFSA business review and that the NFSA convene an open forum to enable a full public discussion of these matters before final decisions on terminations, sackings and personnel restructures come into effect.