More on Andy Burnham

Screen International ran this item yesterday:

UK gets third Culture Secretary in seven months

24 Jan 2008 19:14

Andy Burnham has been named as the new UK Culture Secretary – the third holder of the post in seven months.

The 38-year-old Cambridge graduate from Leigh in Manchester follows James Purnell, who was yesterday appointed Work And Pensions Minister.

Purnell had only been in the post since July last year, taking over from Tessa Jowell. He was promoted to his new role yesterday when Peter Hain resigned as police began an investigation into the funding of his campaign to be Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s deputy.

Burnham has experience of the culture portfolio having been special adviser at the department during Tony Blair’s first term and a researcher for former minister Tessa Jowell.

Everton fan Burnham’s chief love is football and he has run award-winning campaigns on behalf of fans.

He will need all that drive for his new role. Purnell took personal responsibility in big policy areas such as the funding of Channel 4 and the BBC and new areas of digital entertainment, all of which had an effect on the film industry. Big areas of policy remain unresolved.

In his team is the minister directly responsible for film, a post that has also been something of a revolving door: incumbent Margaret Hodge arrived in 2007 to become the sixth minister in seven years.

Hodge followed, Shaun Woodward, Estelle Morris, James Purnell, Kim Howells and Janet Anderson.

Andy Burnham new culture secretary

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Following Peter Hain’s resignation today, James Purnell moves from the Department of Culture Media and Sport to become the new Work and Pensions secretary. His successor as culture secretary is Andy Burnham, who was special adviser to Chris Smith at the DCMS, and now moves from his job as chief secretary to the Treasury.

A profile of Andy Burnham can be found at:

Update on Colin MacCabe’s bid for BFI Chair

This piece on Colin MacCabe’s bid for Chair of the BFI appeared in Screen International last week.


Colin MacCabe wants to shake up the UK Film Council-British Film Institute relationship, he tells Geoffrey Macnab.

It is almost a decade since Colin MacCabe left his position as head of research and education at the British Film Institute (BFI). He is still an active producer — his latest project, Isaac Julien’s Derek Jarman documentary, Derek, premieres in Sundance. Yet MacCabe cannot hide his dismay at what has happened to the BFI over the intervening years.

“I see an institute devoted to the love of history and film that has been deliberately destroyed,” MacCabe says. The rot, he suggests, set in at the beginning of the New Labour era.

During this period, the BFI Production Board, which had supported the work of Jarman, Julien and many others was dismantled and such initiatives as the masters degree that the BFI ran from 1992-98 were discontinued. The BFI itself became “subordinate” to the UK Film Council and, he contends, much of its old expertise as a centre of knowledge was lost.

MacCabe announced his candidacy for the position of BFI chair before Anthony Minghella vacated the position at the end of last month. In a sharply worded letter to James Purnell, secretary of state for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), he wrote that he considered “the major task of the new chair of the BFI to seek a more equitable and beneficial relationship with the Film Council.”

He does not have much hope he will be given the job as chair but hopes to re-ignite the debate about public film policy that has flickered on and off since 1998.

MacCabe — an academic and biographer of Jean-Luc Godard as well as a producer — accepts that outsiders may see him as a representative of an old guard. Nonetheless, he insists his motives for wanting to be chair are simply “to give to others the benefits I have had”. He adds that he has “no personal ambition in this matter… what small boy grows up and says, I want to be chairman of the BFI?”

It is clear MacCabe feels he has unfinished business at the BFI. He spent almost 15 years there (as head of production, from 1985-89, and as head of research and education, from 1989-98).

“The BFI was not a perfect organisation in 1997,” he says emphatically, but it was at least in his eyes “a national and global benchmark for excellence”.

In his time at the institute, MacCabe encouraged projects to allow schoolchildren to use film to communicate — with startling effects in boosting literacy. He believes that one central plank of public film policy should be to ensure “the recording and editing of images goes together with the teaching of reading and writing”.

The BFI has been the beneficiary of a windfall as the DCMS invested $50m (£25m) in autumn 2007 for the organisation to safeguard the UK’s national and regional film archives. The institute is now looking to establish a national film centre.

MacCabe pays tribute to the way BFI director Amanda Neville and her staff “have achieved both the money for the archive and a realistic — for the first time — plan for the South Bank”. The question he asks, though, is just what the BFI is going to do now the era of the cinematheque seems to be over. “A most fundamental level of rethink needs to go on.”

Screen International 4 January 2008, p. 13

BFI Publishing latest

This update on the future of BFI Publishing was circulated to staff just before Christmas.

BFI Publishing

From 1 January 2008 Palgrave Macmillan will assume management responsibility for the BFI imprint, take over worldwide sales, marketing and distribution as well as editorial and production of BFI books moving forward. As stated back in August when we announced our intention to partner with Palgrave Macmillan, the BFI retains ownership of the list and contractual rights in all titles.

There will be some staff changes at the BFI. Rebecca Barden and Sophia Contento will transfer across to Palgrave Macmillan from 1 January 2008, while Wendy Earle and Caren Willig move to different departments within the BFI. Wendy takes up a new post as Online Content Manager in the Education Team. Caren joins the JISC team as education co-ordinator responsible for liaison with schools, universities and colleges throughout the InView project. Tom Cabot will be leaving the BFI.

A joint editorial board is being established to ensure that the BFI cultural integrity of the commissioning process for future titles is maintained. Representatives from the BFI include Heather Stewart, Geoff Andrew, Nick James and the new Head of Content who will be appointed soon. Rebecca Barden will also sit on the editorial board with other representatives from Palgrave Macmillan.

I am sure that everyone joins with the Executive in wishing every success to the individual members of publishing staff in their future careers and to BFI books in this new partnership.

Nick Mason Pearson – Director of Press & Public Affairs