Amanda Nevill’s recent letter to BFI staff:
TO: Employees at BFI
FROM: Amanda Nevill
BFI 2011 to 2015
Over recent months the management of the British Film Institute have been finalising the proposals under which the BFI will respond to the decision of the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to reduce our grant. At the same time we have been thinking hard about ways in which the BFI can flourish into the future as the lead body for film in the UK. We still have much work to do in determining the full impact of integrating those activities transferring from the UK Film Council, but the proposals for the restructuring to the existing BFI have now reached a stage in their development where I am able to write to you explaining the proposals and the rationale behind the proposals and begin to share the ambitions for the BFI from now on.
The Financial Position
As you know, in the four year funding settlement announced earlier this year, DCMS’s total grant to the BFI was reduced from £16m per annum this year to £14.6m per annum in 2014/15. The cut in grant next year is £1m of which £500,000 is revenue and £500,000 capital. As we have already advised you this is only part of the financial pressure we face in the future. The contribution to the normal running costs of the organisation from the Screen Heritage UK (SHUK) programme winds down and we lost the similar benefit that we would have had if the Film Centre project had continued. This year we realised cash from the sale of a small part of the Berkhamsted estate, which we are unable to continue. If we add inflation and some other increases in costs and taxes, the revenue gap next year is £2m. If we were to do nothing this would rise to £4m in 2014/15, so it is important that decisive action is taken now to ensure that the BFI can deliver its strategic objectives, albeit on a smaller scale. But there is more than just a financial driver for change. Over the last five years, we have achieved a tremendous amount between us. We have completely changed public perception of the BFI. We have successfully transformed BFI Southbank. Our master film collection will be safe in a brand new state-of-the-art vault and we will soon be able to browse all the information about the BFI collections on-line. The range and diversity of the BFI DVDs are resulting in record sales, bucking trends, whilst our programme of film releases receives rave reviews. The BFI London Film Festival goes from strength to strength, beating box office receipts year on year, attracting increased levels of funding support and winning global admiration for its programme. The BFI IMAX is also now a major contributor to BFI funds and a really important channel for building audiences and industry relations. We now need to look to the next ten years.
We are entering a new era for the BFI, one in which we are the strategic lead for film in the UK, and internationally. We have to rise to this challenge. We will be leading on the development of a new film policy for the UK – one which encompasses archive, education and skills, production, exhibition and distribution. Whilst we support the broadest delivery of these policies, we also need to make sure the BFI itself sets the pace for transformation, transforming our Board, transforming our Executive and management capability, adopting a dynamic approach to new partnerships, investing in digital technology for distribution of BFI programmes and modemising delivery. We must ensure that we are working effectively, buying wisely and maximising our income. We must also be brave enough to embark on new entrepreneurial activities to complement the IMAX success. To achieve all of this, especially in the current economic climate, will mean stopping some of what we do now and having the courage to prioritise the activities that must be at the very core of a future BFI.
The following constitute the first phase of proposals which we believe will make BFI fit for the 21st century and flourish as a world class institution.
* A single voice for all our programmes. It is proposed that there be a new post of Director of BFI Public Programmes to lead a unified team of programmers across cinemas, festivals, distribution, digital and print. This would bring greater coherence to our cultural programme. It would give us economies of scale and make it easier to market to new and existing audiences. It would also be more effective to fundraise against. As part of this we propose to rationalise and focus the size and depth of our public programmes.
* As guardians of the greatest collections of film on earth, it is proposed that the Collections be directly represented on the Executive by a new post of Director of Collections and Leaming. This post would be responsible for enhancing the national and intemational leadership role of the BFI and its Collections. Over an initial period of nine months the new post would also be responsible for developing an investment plan for not only the BFI Collections but also other UK collections – Screen Heritage UK phase 2. This would include a review of the Berkhamsted operation with particular focus on the move towards digital restoration, access and storage.
* Whilst we are proposing creating these two posts, it is proposed that we reduce the total number of executive and senior manager posts by approximately seven. The full extent of the restructure proposals for the Executive and senior management team does depend on the integration plan for the activities transferring from the UK Film Council, as we determine the proposed leadership team for the next era. This we will not know until January, but we are proposing that the Director of Special Projects role is cut and that we return to a combined Marketing and Communications Director.
* We propose to continue our commitment to digital delivery. The heart of this programme will be putting more of our archive online. It includes installing more digital projection capability at BFI Southbank, and investing in our network and desktop systems, new customer tracking and ticketing systems. This commitment is essential to our future.
* The Gallery has attracted much critical acclaim since it opened and has played a significant role in creating BFI Southbank as a destination; however, when considering the investment in the Gallery against other areas in the BFI we are proposing prioritising areas unique to the BFI. We are therefore proposing to close the Gallery at the end of this financial year.
* The Library is very important to us, but it is attracting fewer visitors and is in need of investment. We propose to close the reading room at Stephen Street and provide new facilities at BFI Southbank in the space it is proposed be vacated by the Gallery. This would make the Library accessible to a wider public. Alongside this we propose investing to provide a new service of digital desktop delivery of materials not available on site. A smaller research facility for dedicated researchers would then be provided at Berkhamsted.
* Specialist magazines are struggling to compete with free online infonnation and our magazine, whilst doing relatively well compared to many, is no different. We propose to review the editorial and production of our magazine ‘Sight & Sound’; the review to be undertaken by the end of March 2011 .
* The LLGFF is 25 years old next year. We have already scaled it back to a seven day festival, and we will review it again in April 2011.
* We are proposing to reduce our overheads by making £500,000 savings in our support functions of Finance, Estates, Human Resources, Marketing and Communications.
* We have reviewed our procurement and are confident of achieving savings of £400,000 per annum.
*We propose to drive income up by £600,000 next year rising to nearly £2m by year four. This will include a review of admission prices at BFI Southbank and IMAX and for the festivals. We plan to build entirely new business areas and are targeting a net income from these of £500,000 per annum by 2015. We intend to increase our fundraising income by a further £300,000 per annum from next year – this is only possible if we are able to bring new focus to the BFI’s cultural programme. Taken together, these initiatives will contribute significantly to closing the forecast gap and, although not without risk, will help us avoid deeper cuts in services and jobs.
These proposals will, unfortunately, give rise to a reduction in posts and therefore redundancies. The reduction of posts is across the BFI and impacts all main sites. Redundancy selection criteria are under discussion with the trade unions and we have advised them of the possible redundancy pools (from which the provisional selections for redundancy will be made).
The majority of redundancies arising from these proposals will take place on 31 March 2011.
There are two separate formal consultation processes within the overall BFI 11-15 Proposals.
The first, Phase one – Executive restructure. This relates to the proposal to have two roles: Director of Public Programme and Director of Collections and Learning. We will begin fonnal consultation with affected individuals and collectively with the unions, on the proposed structure and where appropriate on any redundancy impact on the 16 December. This consultation will end on 15 January.
The second consultation process, which includes all other proposals will commence formal collective and individual consultation on the 31 January. This consultation will run until 1 March. This timetable is agreed with the unions.
The consultation will include matters relating to the proposed selection criteria, the proposed number of redundancies and any means of avoiding or reducing the number of redundancies and possible ways to mitigate the consequences of any redundancy dismissals.
As advised, to reduce the number of compulsory redundancies we are introducing a voluntary redundancy scheme, details of which follow. Once that process has completed in late January, we will be finalising the proposals for consultation. Where individuals are in specific posts that are identified as being at risk of redundancy, or are within a pool of posts, some of which may be at risk of redundancy, then this will be confirmed prior to commencement of the consultation. If you are identified as being in a redundancy pool this only means that you are at risk of redundancy and does not mean that you will necessarily be made redundant. We will make every effort to reduce compulsory redundancies – as described below.
We will consult on an individual basis with staff identified as at risk of redundancy and collectively with the trade unions. We will consult with ‘a view to reaching agreement’. During this time we will be holding meetings, discussing ideas, producing answers to ‘frequently asked questions’ and listening to all feedback and comments. At the end of the consultation period we will let you know how our proposals have been shaped by the discussions during the consultation process and what our plan for the future is.
No redundancies will be confirmed during the formal consultation period.
What we are doing to mitigate job losses
1. Voluntary Redundancy
We have an agreement to avoid compulsory redundancies where we can. The first step is to call for staff interested in voluntary redundancy to inform HR of their interest. The terms are identical to our agreed redundancy schemes. The BFI will decide which applications are approved and does reserve the right to reject applications made at its discretion.
Voluntary redundancy applications will be accepted from 16 December 2010 until 21 January 2011. The forms and guidance are on the Intranet. If interested you can submit a form to Human Resources indicating that you would first like a redundancy payment estimate to assist with your decision making. It is likely to take around three working days to respond to a request for an estimate. You should factor this in so that any application can be submitted by the 21 January deadline.
The BFI’s redundancy schemes are also on the Intranet at http://Websrvl/document library/bfi policies/staff policies
2. Pay Freeze
In order to preserve as many jobs as possible we are proposing that pay increases for all staff on BFI terms and conditions are frozen in 2011-12. This would mean no cost of living (COLA) award for the year and no increment increases in the year 1 April 2011 – 31 March 2012. The incremental scheme would restart on 1 April 2012. This proposal is subject to negotiation with the trade unions. The pay freeze on executive pay will continue. Our redundancy numbers are based upon agreeing the pay freeze. If a pay freeze is not agreed further redundancies are likely to need to be made.
3. Support Available
I recognise that this is a difficult time for many. Support is available through our employee assistance programme provided by Workplace Options. They run a 24 hour confidential counselling advisory and financial service and can be accessed free of charge by you and your families on Freephone 0800 243 458. We will also be arranging a series of workshops for staff identified as at risk of redundancy. The workshops will cover topics ranging from career counselling to preparing for interviews.
It is obviously important that you should be kept informed of progress in the consultation process and other developments as they occur. There will be local and directorate meetings and you are encouraged to talk with your local Manager and Executive Director. We have also set up a dedicated email address for you to use to submit questions, comments and ideas. This email address may be used for the phase one Executive restructure formal consultation, and in this period of informal consultation on the broader proposals. These will be collated and answered on a weekly basis and other relevant updates provided.
The email address is: email@example.com. We will also issue regular information updates to staff by e-mail.
Obviously, communication or information specific to individuals will continue to be delivered on a confidential and personal basis. Staff at risk of redundancy will have the opportunity to attend individual meetings to discuss their ideas and options.
I realise that the announcement made by this letter will give rise to many questions. Your Executive Director will be able to answer any questions you may have on the proposed restructuring, the proposed redundancies, and the consultation process. More detailed information will be made available as the consultation progresses.
Your co-operation and your continued hard work and contribution is very much needed during the restructuring and beyond. Only with that assistance can the project be managed through to conclusion and the successful future of BFI secured.
I hope very much we can all work together and I thank you in advance for the help and co-operation that I know you will all give.
British Film Institute
From the Guardian today:
BFI to cut 37 jobs and close gallery
British Film Institute announces cost-cutting measures alongside plans to relocate library and enhance digital strategy
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 16 December 2010 14.52 GMT
Substantial job cuts, the closure of the BFI Southbank art gallery, and the relocation of the BFI library, were among measures announced today as part of the shakeup of the British Film Institute. The body is juggling both a 15% cut in its grant over the next four years, and the prospect of absorbing the majority of duties previously performed by the recently axed UK Film Council.
The redundancies of an estimated 37 people are part of a cost-cutting drive the BFI today ascribed to the decreased government grant, “successive years of zero increases in grant-in-aid funding and rising utilities and pension costs”. The closure of the gallery, which holds exhibitions of cinema-related artwork, was said to be part of an initiative to have the BFI concentrate on services it is uniquely placed to deliver.
These measures comes alongside an enhanced digital strategy, also announced today, which aims to generate revenue and improve access to the BFI’s substantial archive. There will also be a new membership drive and the BFI library, currently housed near Tottenham Court Road, will be transferred to the main Southbank site. A digital-on-demand service is also planned, as is the appointment of a director of BFI public programmes, who will be tasked with further integration of the BFI’s theatrical, distribution, digital and print activities.
Amanda Nevill, the director of the BFI, said: “It is imperative the BFI builds on its successes and remains commercially astute in this tough new environment. We have an incredible opportunity in the months and years ahead to create something very special for film in the UK and these proposals are both bold and necessary.”
Early in the new year, the BFI will advertise to recruit new governing board members to ease the transition period for the assumption of the UK Film Council’s duties.
From the BFI website today:
BFI proposal for a new film era in the UK
16 Dec 2010
We have announced measures to help us prepare for a new era for film in the UK, following the decision made by the Department for Culture Media and Sport to make the BFI the UK’s lead body for film. The proposals include an ambitious digital modernisation strategy, making the delivery of our services more efficient and a plan to grow income and increased free public access to the BFI Collections.
This is the critical first step for the BFI, as we adapt to a changed financial environment and position the organisation as the lead body for film in the UK. In this first phase, we are prioritising those activities that are core to the BFI, that are unique and that audiences most value.
Central to the strategy is continued investment in digital capability that will provide greater public access to the BFI’s film and knowledge collections and improved reach of its public programmes.
The BFI will build on its revenue-earning successes with a package of initiatives that includes a new Membership drive, introducing advertising opportunities onscreen and online, as well as an ambitious sponsorship and fundraising campaign. Additionally, brand new business opportunities are being developed to take advantage of the BFI’s expertise, skills and knowledge, through international partnerships and new digital business models.
The BFI’s long-standing, ambitious and successful drive to engage with more and different people is at the heart of a decision to relocate the BFI Library to BFI Southbank, where it can be tied more closely to growing audiences, the delivery of the cultural and education programmes and to the BFI Mediatheque. For dedicated researchers, a bespoke facility will be created at the BFI National Archive where the collections are physically held. A pioneering digital-on-demand service is also planned at BFI Southbank that will allow desktop delivery of the Collections. Over time, the ambition is to offer similar services at BFI Mediatheques around the UK.
These changes are being proposed against a backdrop of a 15% cut in our grant-in-aid over the next four years, successive years of zero increases in grant-in-aid funding and rising utilities and pension costs, which have created a widening gap in our budget. These new measures allow efficiencies, stimulate additional revenue and help us further reduce our reliance on public funding. Nevertheless, we anticipate the proposals will lead to a net reduction in our workforce of around 37 posts.
Amanda Nevill, Director of the BFI, said:
“It is imperative the BFI builds on its successes and remains commercially astute in this tough new environment. We have an incredible opportunity in the months and years ahead to create something very special for film in the UK and these proposals are both bold and necessary.”
In tandem, we are also making ourselves ready for the transition of responsibilities from the UK Film Council and further structural changes may be made following the due diligence period. Early in the new year, we will advertise to recruit new Governing Board members to guide us through the transition period and beyond. At the same time, an outline transition timetable will be published.
At the core of the proposals are:
1) A plan to bring greater coherence to the cultural programme across the whole of the BFI, a move which will also reduce costs and create more incentives for fundraising and philanthropy. A new post of Director of BFI Public Programmes will lead a unified team of programmers across cinemas, festivals, distribution, digital and print.
2) An aim to further increase the number of people across the UK and internationally who can engage with the BFI’s public programme and film culture. Digital technologies will play a critical part in this and the BFI proposes renewing infrastructure and investing in new skills.
3) Closure of the BFI Gallery at BFI Southbank as part of the prioritisation on those activities that only the BFI can deliver.
4) A proposal to move the BFI Library and reading room from its current location and create new facilities at BFI Southbank in the space currently used for the BFI Gallery.
5) Establishing a bespoke research centre for academics, the film industry and researchers in the heart of the BFI National Archive at Berkhamsted.
6) A stringent review of procurement processes to achieve economies; reducing overheads by making savings in support costs; boosting new business through the development of commercial opportunities both within the UK and internationally; a drive to increase fundraising income and philanthropy.
The proposals are subject to a period of staff consultation as a number of posts will be put at risk of redundancy from the end of January 2011. If accepted, the proposals will start taking effect from April 2011.
From the Evening Standard today:
Seven bosses on £100,000-plus at body replacing axed Film Council
This week ministers named the BFI as the future one-stop shop for British movies and handed it key duties, such as Lottery distribution, currently carried out by the Film Council.
But accounts for the year to March show the BFI, which is a charity, had as many highly-rewarded staff as the body it is replacing.
High overheads and waste at the Film Council were cited as reasons for it to go. Justifying its abolition this summer, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt had said: “It is simply not acceptable in these times to fund an organisation like the UK Film Council where no fewer than eight of the top executives are paid more than £100,000.”
In fact, two had already left. One of those remaining includes British Film Commissioner Colin Brown, who has helped to bring in £780 million of investment from foreign producers this year.
Another still in her post is Tanya Seghatchian, head of the film fund, who decides which British movies to back with £15 million of Lottery cash. Ms Seghatchian, who was on a salary of about £165,000, took a 25 per cent pay cut earlier in the year.
The BFI has three staff whose basic pay is over the £100,000 mark. They are led by director Amanda Nevill, on £137,000.
However, total packages including pensions, add a further four un-named BFI executives to the top pay bracket, making seven in total. This is more than at the Film Council, where there is a big gap between the most highly rewarded executives and the bulk of staff.
Ms Nevill’s salary is boosted by pension contributions of £20,431, according to the records from the Charity Commission.
A BFI spokesman said none of its senior managers were on anything like the highest salaries of the Film Council, where chief executive John Woodward was on a pay and pension deal of nearly £236,000 before he left a month ago.
BFI chairman Greg Dyke has already said the institute believes there will be opportunities to reduce overheads when it assumes its new duties in April. It has a staff of 463.
Shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis claimed high salaries were never the real reason for Mr Hunt’s decision anyway.
“The truth is Jeremy Hunt axed the Film Council… to get a cheap headline,” he said.
“New administrative arrangements are no substitute for a vision to ensure Britain’s dynamic film industry is at the heart of a growth strategy for our creative industries.”
From the Guardian film blog 29 November 2010:
Ed Vaizey restarts the film funding merry-go-round
The BFI’s assumption of the UK Film Council’s responsibilities continues a decades-long saga of chopping and changing in the British film industry
This morning’s announcement by Ed Vaizey confirms the rumours that have been circulating from pretty much the moment that the UK Film Council was abolished: the British Film Institute will be picking up the reins of lottery-fund distribution to the film industry. What’s remarkable is that, after over two decades of chopping and changing, we are back where we were in the late 1980s: the BFI is the only game in town.
It’s especially extraordinary given the kind of rhetoric that accompanied the establishment of the UK Film Council in 2000. When John Woodward was appointed the UK Film Council’s chief executive in 2000, an interview he gave to the Guardian was perceived to be a not-especially-coded attack on the kind of – largely experimental – film the BFI’s production board had sponsored since the early 70s: “The Film Council will help to finance popular films that the British public will go and see in the multiplexes on Friday night. Films that entertain people and make them feel good … It’s pointless to go on handing out thousands of small amounts of money to small films that will struggle to find a distributor and be seen in cinemas … Nowadays, it no longer makes sense to marginalise public support by confining it to a small group of independent producers and directors, who will make films that no one will want or be able to see.”
And the UK Film Council’s first chairman, Alan Parker, was a well-known loather of the Peter Greenaway tendency: I can still remember him, when he was promoting Angela’s Ashes in 2003 on stage at the National Film Theatre, complaining about the adulatory reviews Greenaway got in the mid-80s.
The UK Film Council – in public at least – deliberately set its face against the unconventional, the arthouse, the “difficult”. Interestingly, the council has made enemies in the same way as the BFI production board did – until, of course, its activities were curtailed with the UK Film Council’s creation. The difference, of course, is that the UK Film Council has had access to millions, while the BFI only had thousands – originally given as a grace and favour fund direct from the Lord President of the Privy Council. Writing about the films of Bill Douglas, Mamoun Hassan, one of the BFI’s early, influential commissioners, gave us an interesting insight into how its oppositional stance was built into its foundation: “It represented the beginnings of an alternative cinema in Britain. Denis Forman, then chairman of the BFI, pointed out to the government that the BFI was doing what the National Film Finance Corporation, the quango responsible for film funding, was not interested in.”
The NFFC, a body set up to secure loans for film productions, was the funding establishment of its time, but as long ago as 1976, the Wilson government thought that setting up a single British Film Authority – the UK Film Council of its time – was the way forward. It never happened: the Conservatives in the 1980s weren’t interested.
Looking back, it’s bizarre how state intervention in film funding has been dominated by personal and political agendas. The UK Film Council, a creation of the post-lottery age, was motivated originally by a desire to overturn the dominance of the art film in British funding. The Wilsonian unitary film authority was anathema to Thatcherite laissez-faire; something that appears to be playing out again in the present day. When the lottery funding first materialised, in the mid-90s, it was directly administered, piecemeal, by the Arts Council, who were supposed to give money to projects not able to secure funding elsewhere; hence “lottery film” soon became shorthand for something pretty third rate, and quickly became a target for the likes of Alexander Walker at the Evening Standard. (It has to be said that film-makers, always able to talk a good game, ran rings around bureaucrats normally used to dealing with experimental theatre companies or brass bands.)
The government went to the opposite extreme: the “franchise” system, in which large blocks of cash were given to proven outfits, was supposed to ensure quality product, but that didn’t work either. Over the last decade, the UK Film Council was rather obviously the best organised, and most serious, attempt to make proper use of the lottery windfall. But now the swing is back the other way: an organisation with serious cultural and archival interest will now take over.
Interestingly, the UK Film Council’s record shows that a disbursement body can’t just follow a single line: it may have aimed for pure commerce, but also put money into films that the old BFI production board itself might have funded – My Summer of Love, Bullet Boy, Red Road, even a Peter Greeenaway film, Nightwatching. (Of course films like Sex Lives of the Potato Men – an outrageous financial and artistic blunder – balanced the account.) And over the decade of its existence, the council was forced to reorganise itself a number of times, to deal with anomalies and problems its development process created. Will the 2010s be an exact parallel of the 1980s, with the BFI desperately shoring up a film industry left to swing by the Conservatives?
The BFI, having been systematically stripped by the UK Film Council of its production role, will now have to build one practically from scratch – the fourth time in 15 years that the lottery largesse has forced a wholesale reworking of the state’s film funding process. We really are back where we started.