Monday 29 May 2017

Going pretty well at the NFSA

Editor's Note: For those interested in the current situation at the National Film and Sound Archive. What follows is an extract from the recent Senate Estimates Committee hearings when Acting CEO of the NFSA Meg Labrum was interrogated by ACT Senator Katy Gallagher.

Senator GALLAGHER: … How is it going, Ms Labrum? What are your big challenges?

Ms Labrum: Our biggest challenge is what we raised last time—that is, turning an analogue collection of a century's worth of film and sound into digitally accessible material now. We are working on it. We are working on actually streamlining our own capacity internally, and the strengthening of the relationships between the key cultural bodies about looking at what might be shared goals to get some large volume work happening is a really healthy development.

Senator GALLAGHER: In terms of functions and events, you have quite a busy program.

Ms Labrum: Yes. I know I babbled slightly last time, but there is a healthy program operating. We have our screenings and we have special events. We have Christine Anu coming up in a week or so, which will be a terrific part of our contribution to Reconciliation Week. The challenges I think are still about having the capacity to deliver as broad a range of opportunities as we would like. As you know, we do not have an exhibition as such in our own space, but we are working really actively right now with the National Portrait Gallery. Our big summertime exhibition of portraits of stars is going to launch in November with support from NCITO. We are also now in partnership with the Victorian Arts Centre Melbourne, where they have substantial state funding to develop what they are calling the Australian Music Vault. That is something where our hope of being able to participate not just as content providers but as partners in delivering the collection to the wider Australian market is a very healthy development.

Generally I think we are going pretty well. We are still in the interim stage pending the appointment of the new CEO, and that means that there is a real need for momentum to be maintained so that people do not feel that we are just sitting on our thumbs. I would say pretty confidently that it is feeling good across the organisation in terms of people understanding that we are heading in a positive direction, and really harnessing the digital opportunities is a big challenge.

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