Sylvia Lawson, scholar, critic and author writes in response to Tony Buckley’s
Proposal to ensure the future of the National Film & Sound Archive. (Sylvia’s current reviews may be found at Inside Story.)
Please add my name to the list of signatories to the proposed agenda for the NFSA. I salute Tony for his persistent drive on this.
I have one rather important reservation: I don't think a revived and expanded Archive should have its principal base in Sydney, nor in any other state capital, though of course it should have offices and appropriate representation in all states and territories.
The NFSA, like the National Gallery, the National Museum and the National Library among other major institutions, should be based in the national capital, as is appropriate to its status - or rather, to the status it ought to have. Its present location is in the most beautiful building in Canberra, and this location should be retained. It has been developed and expanded over the past few decades for its purposes, and that could well continue.
Even if the large sums of money involved in re-location and new building could be found, I suggest that they're needed far more urgently for staff and public programmes, the areas which, after recent major cuts, will need restoring.
You are right to point to the comparative governmental neglect of the NFSA by comparison with the treatment of the NGA, NLA and others (although all cultural institutions have suffered unduly under the present regime). I have written, and will probably write again, on the comparative lack of cachet accorded by government to film and audio-visual media in general.
I suggest that Tony's proposals should be the subject of meetings at the Archive, in Sydney, Melbourne and elsewhere, wherever concerned film makers, film users, teachers and others can gather.
23 April 2015