Friday 12 February 2021

The National Film and Sound Archive is looking for a new CEO

Here's what they are looking for. 

The CEO role and its responsibilities 

Under section 9 of the NFSA Act 2008, the NFSA is governed by a Board. The CEO is appointed by the Board after consultation with the Minister under Section 22 of the NFSA Act. The CEO holds office on a full-time basis and may be appointed for up to five years. The CEO is not a member of the Board, although they attend Board meetings, and are responsible for the day-to-day administration of the NFSA.  

The departing CEO, Mr Jan Müller, joined the NFSA in 2017. He was instrumental in driving cultural change across the organisation and ensuring it is more outward-looking, digital by design, and collaborative. He returned to the Netherlands at the end of 2020 and, accordingly, the NFSA Board is seeking to identify and appoint his successor.  

The CEO of the NFSA is the institution’s most senior executive and responsible for its overall strategy and day-to-day management and the leaderships of its organisational culture, under the Board’s oversight and governance. 

The CEO leads a team of more than 160 skilled archivists, curators, historians, audiovisual technicians and other employees based at head office in Canberra and smaller offices in Sydney and Melbourne. They manage the annual budget of approximately A$31 million. 

They are also responsible for building and enriching a strong network of relationships across industry and Government; overseeing long-term planning; ensuring risk management and the creation of opportunity; reporting and corporate governance; and stewardship of the NFSA’s strategy and finances. 

The new CEO could be an experienced general manager from the arts, media or entertainment industries. They may be an administrator from an arts organisation or a gallery, library, archive or museum, preferably with experience in the audiovisual archive subsector. Alternatively, they may be a successful digital content leader from the film, television, radio or digital media sector.  

Given the NFSA’s mission, it is critical that the CEO has a strong curatorial sensibility, good knowledge of Australian history, a sense of Australian cultural significance and a passion for audiovisual media. The successful candidate will have strong leadership qualities and have a proven capacity to promote and maintain a positive, productive and inclusive organisational culture. They will have led and developed significant teams of people in a structured environment; have experience leading technicians and creatives, and bring strong local and, preferably, global networks. The CEO will have a strong track record working with government and funding bodies, and proven success in attracting funding and driving strategic outcomes. 

While there is a distinct advantage for the successful candidate to be an Australian or have worked in the local market, given the specific technical aspects of the role, they may come from offshore. Academic qualifications from well-regarded institutions are anticipated and higher degrees are desirable. 

The priorities for the role include the following. 

  • Leading, inspiring and developing the team. The successful candidate will lead the team of NFSA staff, including archivists, historians, curators, engineers, engagement and exhibition staff and administrative professionals. They will lead and foster a culture of openness, achievement and trust. They will gain the confidence of staff, and be responsible for attracting, hiring, systematically developing and motivating highly capable professionals, while ensuring that their performance is managed. It is critical that the NFSA continues to attract sector-leading practitioners. The CEO will continue to drive, enthuse and develop an outward-looking team which has the audiovisual industries, historians, students, visitors, the public and future generations of Australians at the heart of everything that they do. 

  • Understanding our stakeholders and the importance of relationships. The NFSA’s success is underpinned by our understanding of the users of the collection and the audiovisual production sectors as well as the digital environment. This includes the need to respond to the needs of content creators and producers, arts bodies, historians, students and the general public, across the country. The new CEO must ensure that they lead the NFSA to understand the needs and emerging issues of the entire sector ecosystem. The CEO needs to ensure the NFSA strengthens and maintains our metropolitan and regional presence; continues to develop a strong First Nations collection and cultural understanding of our First Nations stakeholders, and through a strong relationship-based approach, pursues opportunities to grow private sector support and increase the NFSA’s own source revenue.  The CEO will need to sustain strong working relationships with stakeholders across the screen and sound community, Australian, state, territory and local governments, the GLAM sector, creative industries and the broader Australian community. They will form partnerships with universities, schools, museums, media companies, industry bodies and other major cultural institutions – particularly other national collecting institutions in Canberra – as well as relevant international peak bodies and will have the opportunity to play an important leadership role in a whole-of-sector, contemporary approach to archiving. They will need to be a media-savvy spokesperson for the NFSA. The CEO will require a high level of cultural competency, including an understanding of the issues affecting First Nations stakeholders, and an ability to communicate sensitively and effectively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

  • Driving and ensuring the digitisation of the collection. NFSA collection material needs to be digitised at scale and on deadline, especially those formats that are deteriorating, such as magnetic tape Audiences now expect to be able to access and use collection material in digital formats on demand. The CEO needs to ensure the NFSA meets these expectations and continues to digitise the collection to the ensure it is available and accessible into the future, while also managing the custodianship of a large and varied analogue collection.  

  • Enhancing the NFSA’s quality and profile and redefining our physical and virtual presence. The NFSA is Australia’s living archive. We are the custodian and curator of the pre-eminent collection of Australia’s culturally significant audiovisual material. The CEO’s ultimate responsibility is to ensure that this positioning is enhanced. It is fundamental that the NFSA is recognised as Australia’s national audiovisual archive, a leader in the field, a source of vibrant, relevant and exciting engagement and the first point of access for Australia’s audiovisual content. As part of this goal, the new CEO will be responsible both for continuing to pursue a new purpose-built facility for the NFSA and for leadership in digitised audiovisual materials in the virtual world of online culture. A new NFSA building in Canberra and enhanced digital capability and presence will embed the NFSA as the centre of innovation with strong connections to other cultural institutions and to the creative industries. 

  • Driving access and engagement particularly through digital platforms. It is central to the NFSA’s mission that it be open to and accessed by all Australians. The CEO will be an inspirational leader, who stimulates conversation and creative ideas on how to facilitate engagement. The CEO will be responsible for implementing a program of NFSA branded events with strong links to the collection and a vibrant program of high-profile exhibitions. The CEO needs to manage the quality and relevance of the NFSA’s physical buildings, including our heritage Acton Peninsula, Canberra site and critical to the NFSA’s presence is the continuing development and growth of online and digital engagement activities and the establishment of a platform to share and make accessible the collection. 

  • Maintaining a relevant acquisition program. The NFSA’s approach to acquisitions is a curatorial one, centred on cherry-picking a representative sample of Australia’s most culturally relevant audiovisual material and related artefacts. This includes the collection of multimedia and new media as the creation of content reflects the rapid rate of technology advances. At present, the program is primarily driven through donations and contractual requirements imposed by Screen Australia with filmmakers. The new CEO will drive a targeted acquisitions program which focuses on developing a collection that is representative of contemporary Australia.  

  • Leading a successful archiving program and developing partnerships as Australia’s leading digitisation centre. The new CEO must ensure that the NFSA continues to collect, preserve and share Australia’s rich audiovisual heritage in a relevant and cost-effective way. The NFSA will adopt a collaborative approach to ensure the long-term preservation of the NFSA’s audiovisual collection and provide support and guidance for other audiovisual heritage collection holders. The CEO will continue to develop new partnerships to build the impact and output of our digitisation services. They will act as an advocate and thought leader for a whole-of-sector approach to archiving, digitising and data storage. 

  • Refining the approach to client services. The NFSA’s cost-recovery model of providing access to collection material to third party users sits in an environment of complex copyright laws. The CEO will need to be across this complexity and guide the NFSA’s strategic approach to ensuring access to the collection while preserving the rights of copyright holders and the NFSA’s own commercial interests. 

  • Ensuring the continued financial viability of the NFSA. The NFSA operates on a diversified funding model, which includes Government funding; retail; venue hire; entry fees for certain events and exhibitions, and in-kind support. The new CEO will have responsibility for the financial stewardship and viability of the NFSA to ensure it is run efficiently with a focus on sustainable growth, including identifying new and growing existing revenue streams, particularly philanthropy and sponsorship. They will ensure the NFSA – and each branch – manages to its budget and brings commerciality to bear. 

  • Developing long-term and short-term strategy. The CEO will work with the Board to continue to shape and drive the NFSA’s long-term strategic direction. They will be aware of, and responsive to, significant changes within the research and audiovisual landscape and digital environment. Accordingly, they will identify and realise opportunities from new access regimes, curatorial offerings and partnerships to the adoption of new technologies within a complex environment.  

  • Promoting and supporting innovation. As the NFSA continues to transform from an analogue archive into a digital archive it will continue to be important that the new CEO identifies and executes on new areas of innovation. The NFSA must continue to invest in knowledge and innovation across all business areas, helping to grow its strong national and international reputation as a thought leader in the field of audiovisual archiving. They will be responsible for identifying and implementing methods to ensure the ongoing life of historical materials, particularly through digitisation. Accordingly, they must stay across influences, trends and approaches to archiving and look for ideas that may assist the NFSA in remaining a leader in the sector. 

  • Working with the Board and ensuring corporate governance requirements are met. This role has a close relationship with the Board, to which it is accountable. The CEO needs to form consultative and participatory working relationships with the Board, championing ideas and leveraging the expertise of Board members. The CEO will be responsible for ensuring the Board is appraised of all relevant information on risks and opportunities and emerging issues to allow the Board to fulfil its governance role, including providing the Board with reports in an accurate and timely manner. They will particularly establish a strong relationship with the Chair. The CEO will manage risk, including work health and safety. They will be responsible for meeting regulatory requirements and protocols with Minister’s office and other relevant Government bodies. The CEO will be responsible for ensuring that the NFSA complies with all the statutory and regulatory requirements of a Commonwealth Government agency, particularly those relating to procurement of goods and services, people management and financial and management accountability. 

    Full details if you click here 


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