NFSA promises further consultation
The National Film and Sound Archive will hold further talks with industry groups and individuals as it hammers out a strategic plan that addresses the urgent need to raise more funds to continue to digitise its screen collection.
By the end of this month the NFSA will publish online transcripts of public forums held around Australia and provide an update on the key themes that emerged from that consultation.
Starting in September the Archive will hold a mix of focus group discussions and broader workshops with interested individuals and organisations.
“The aim is not only to workshop specific emerging themes and questions but also for me to continue fleshing out a sustainable and continuing way of ensuring I can test ideas with the sector and the broader community,” NFSA CEO Michael Loebenstein said in an open letter to Geoff Gardner.
Gardner is the Film Alert blogger and former Melbourne Film Festival director who organised a petition signed by 140 directors, producers, writers, actors, academics and journalists which protested job cuts at the institution and urged the Archive to release a business review carried out by the CEO.
In April Loebenstein announced a restructuring which slashed the workforce from 206 to 178 and cut back its touring program and the number of events at its Arc cinema in Canberra.
Gardner summarised the key points from the consultations as the NFSA’s lack of funds to cover all of its assigned activities; the difficulty in finding private funding; the need for greater government commitment to fund the NFSA properly; the appointment of an indigenous officer to manage a key part of the NFSA’s work; the future role of the board in pursuing these financial requirements; and the need “for all these issues to be thrashed out in public, especially so as to enable the film community to support and advocate for the NFSA’s survival and future prosperity.”
The organisation received $27.07 million from the government in the last financial year. That falls to $25.9 million for each of the next two years. The allocations beyond that are $25.74 million and $26.01 million
Loebenstein told Gardner, “In the light of the massive challenge brought forward by necessary and essential digital preservation activities for formats that cannot be preserved on analogue carriers there is absolutely no way around large scale public funding.
“I do underscore your argument that public infrastructure-scale investment, probably enhanced by private sector funds, is the only sustainable and convenient response to the so-called digital deluge. It is an argument that galvanises support from our stakeholders. If the outcome of my engagement with community is not only a well-articulated and supported strategic plan, but an orchestrated and visible public advocacy for this cause and for policy development I think we will have achieved a lot.
“And it will be a test for the robustness of the relationship between NFSA management, board, community advocates and supporters, and our administration.
“I am increasingly excited by this huge opportunity for creating a public debate and momentum for not only change but growth of the NFSA’s visibility within the sector and community, but also in general an increased awareness of our audiovisual legacy and its significance for our collective identity and well-being. I really look forward to the next stages of synthesising what has been said so far into a work plan.”