Tuesday 7 April 2015

Ensuring the Future of the National Film & Sound Archive - Tony Buckley's Proposal to deal with urgent Issues

The future of the National Film & Sound Archive has been a subject of low-simmering public debate for the best part of twelve months. Producer, editor and conservator Tony Buckley has, for a considerable period and long before the current rankling commenced, independently developed his own ideas about the institution and its management. He has publicly expressed his thoughts on a number of occasions, including in a speech posted here.

For some time now Tony has been preparing an agenda of issues which he believes the Federal Government and the NFSA itself hves to address in order to ensure the institution's future. I have posted the full version of the paper on the Film Alert website but to give you some guidance on the issues it addresses and the recommendations it makes a shorter summary of them are set out below. 

The paper makes plain that the situation in which the NFSA finds itself is the result of the failure of successive governments which have allowed the deterioration of the condition of the Archive to occur in a way they have never allowed for the National Gallery and the National Library.  It could be argued that the Archive, as the repository of the Nation’s motion picture heritage, will eventually outweigh those other national institutions in national importance.

The issues identified and recommendations include:

A special grant be requested of Government for the priority digitisation of the two elements of the Cinesound bequest, followed by the provision of sufficient funds for all necessary digitisation of the entire collection.

Funds be provided for the urgent acquisition of state of the art equipment

Appointment of a librarian and re-opening of the NFSA Library

Closure of the lending library of prints and transition to making the collection available on DVDs, USBs and DCPs.

Revitalising the NFSA’s Retail Division  

Increasing the budget and activity of the Oral History Program.

Appointment of curators dedicated to lead international and domestic searches for lost Australian films and sound recordings. 

A proposal be prepared as a matter of urgency for a purpose-built facility in Sydney to enable full public access to the NFSA collection.  The NFSA Board should seek a commitment from Government, the Opposition and industry to support the building of a new Archive by 2025, the building should be of a scale and significance as would take its place alongside other national cultural institutions, including the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour, Sydney, The National Art Gallery and National Museums in Canberra.

The Chair and Board to include a greater representation of practitioners from the top echelon of radio, sound, television and film industries, led by a Chair from within the entertainment industry with considerable and respected business management experience.

Where to Now?
Sue Milliken and I have signed on to Tony’s agenda.The paper is thus signed by the self-designated Archive Action Committee! It is an expansive and visionary prospect. We are seeking public support and propose to start a list of signatories who wish to see this agenda explored as a matter of urgency.

The names of anybody who wants to show their public support will be published as a separate item of the Film Alert blog and will updated as each name, if any, is received. Think about whether you would like to once again put your name out as a signatory seeking urgent action, especially from Government in the form of urgent additional funding, to address the NFSA’s difficulties.

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