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Onscreen Editorial

The AFC-ScreenSound Australia integration

"The Australian Film Commission welcomed tonight’s Budget announcement by the Federal Government that the AFC and ScreenSound Australia will be integrated from 1 July 2003, foreshadowing that the integration will enable the continuation of the important work of collecting, documenting, preserving and providing access to the national film and sound archive alongside an enhanced program of audiovisual cultural activities for all Australians."
AFC press release, May 14

Integration’s the word. It’s peppered through the press release and, when I speak to him by phone, in Chief Executive Kim Dalton’s reassuring words that neither organisation will suffer. It’s not immediately clear however which party is being integrated into what—ScreenSound into the AFC, which is what it looks like—or is this going to be a merger into a new entity?

Dalton explains that the AFC Act “will be amended and for the first time require the AFC to be responsible for the collection of our visual heritage.” What will the organisation be called? “The AFC.” There’ll be no ScreenSound? “Not strictly. The name is secondary. This is a critical task and we have made a commitment to it.” Dalton is adamant that the AFC and ScreenSound will each “maintain the integrity of their function and retain their own identity.”

There would seem to be positive implications in the merger for Australian screen culture. Use of that term was apparently discouraged on Dalton’s arrival at the AFC. However, he says he is “absolutely excited at the prospect of new ventures, in an area in the middle—screen education, national exhibition, interactive media-where [the AFC and ScreenSound] are both involved and can work together...providing national perspectives and leadership.”

Things look good, if, as the press release promises: “The integration will enable expansion of current audiovisual culture activities, enhance coordination of such activities, and provide leadership with a national focus by what will be a key cultural organisation.” Australian “audiovisual culture” will be well served if this merger is not a cost-cutting, staff-slashing exercise. Dalton says it is definitely not.

The Friends of the National Film and Sound Archive are “surprised by the merger” (integration’s not a word they use), cautiously optimistic, if rather anxiously “pointing to the dysfunctional relationship following the British Film Institute’s merger with the National Film and Television Archive in 1998—which was reversed after 4 years.”

In their press release the Friends are also concerned about representation: “Strong credentials in film or sound culture are vital prerequisites for those representing the National Film and Sound Archive on the new AFC Board...The Archive should have a long-term guarantee of a minimum of 3 dedicated expert positions on the AFC Board.” The Friends are eager to restore the title National Film and Sound Archive “after its ill-considered ‘rebranding’ as ‘ScreenSound Australia’”, as a matter of priority.

New OnScreen Commissioning Editor: Daniel Edwards

The Managing Editors are pleased to announce the appointment of Daniel Edwards to the position of OnScreen Commissioning Editor, a significant position in RealTime, dealing with film and digital media across Australia and working with Contributing Editors in every state. Daniel is a post-graduate at University of New South Wales, where he tutors in film and edits the UNSW Union magazine. He has made several short films and written about film for a range of publications. Daniel commences his editorship with the August-September edition of RealTime+OnScreen. KG

RealTime issue #55 June-July 2003 pg. 19

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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