Tuesday 14 April 2015

NFSA Strategic Plan - Correspondents respond

A correspondent notes that the Strategic Plan makes no mention of activity in or plans for exhibition in the ARC Cinema. This Canberra resident notes: The lending collection has some wonderful films, and it wouldn't be hard to put on an inspiring programme throughout the year.  Unless there are copyright conflicts, of course.  But if it were free, I don't think that would get them in trouble.  Why keep all those great prints in the dark?

Another correspondent writes: 
The main point I want to make is regarding the 16mm prints in  the NFV Lending Collection. I have said to NFSA officials that people are willing to devote, say, half a day a week, to checking all returning prints, print condition, repair  any damage, rewind etc.if there are no longer staff available.

Unfortunately there seems to be a submission from elsewhere that the 16mm print collection be closed. This is very distressing to me, as I have strong conviction on the value of keeping it open, albeit with restrictions. I hope this is one “recommendation” you will ignore!

The experiences with crap 16mm prints are indeed part of the problem. But the solution is not to throw out the baby, but get all the prints carefully checked before going out. Volunteers are available if there are no staff. The collection should be severely culled, both for quality and in relation to bookings.

This idea of moving the Archive to Sydney is ridiculous. No government, especially not this one, would entertain such an idea. The cost of the real estate would be astronomical. Would all  the nitrate vaults, warehouses full of film and documentary materials etc still stay in Canberra?  The nitrate had been previously storied in a munitions factory!

It is true that the old Institute of Anatomy building was initially unsuitable for the NFSA, but with the excellent and beautifully integrated extension, the legacy of the NFSA’s one good director, Ron Brent, it is now a very good working building - the fact that it is now half empty is not the fault of the building!  For 30 years it was built up from a grim place visited by no-one to a thriving humming exciting venue, a great  tourist attraction, a wonderful inter-active exhibition, two $2 million state of the art cinemas, cafes, shops, library - students would sit writing their theses in the lovely heritage courtyard (sometimes used for outdoor screenings, as well as weddings). Then it was hit by a nuclear bomb. 30 years to build, 30 days to destroy. A morgue to a morgue in 30 years!

The plan says that this mythical Sydney Archive would be a grand place to match other great national institutions - two of the three mentioned are in Canberra!  It would be much better and  cheaper to re-institute the HQ that the NFSA already has rather than start from scratch elsewhere.

Apart from that, Melbourne, which considers itself the film capital of Australia, would never tolerate it!

Another correspondent writes: Information now to hand indicates that for the last fiscal year, 2013/14 the Oral History Program produced 156 commissioned interviews. The Strategic Plan proposes that this number be reduced to 75 per year.

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