BFI’s unpaid interns

A report in the Evening Standard today:

BFI fails to get with the jobs programme

14 February 2013

Has the British Film Institute had a rethink over taking on unpaid interns? Labour MP Stella Creasy asked arts minister Ed Vaizey what he made of the BFI ad for 18 unpaid interns, in light of government recommendations that interns are paid the minimum wage. Vaizey replied that the “BFI is currently considering the future of the scheme”.

The BFI, headed by Amanda Nevill, had to cut 72 jobs when its funding was slashed in 2011. It warns that if it has to introduce paid internships this could “dramatically reduce the opportunities that can be afforded, and possibly prevent the continuation of the scheme altogether. This would be a great pity at a time when more young people than ever are seeking entry to the British film industry which, in turn, benefits from such grassroots talent.”

Perhaps the BFI could join the organisations signing up to the Standard’s Ladder For London campaign to help the young find paid apprenticeships?

BFI fails to get with the jobs programme – Diary – News – London Evening Standard


Article about BFI library on Cultural Capital blog

The New Statesman Cultural Capital blog posted the following article on 5 March 2011:

Where next for the British film industry?

Notes from meeting with BFI management about library proposals

BFI management have asked that the notes of the meeting posted yesterday be taken  down until they have had a chance to amend them. We expect an agreed  version to be posted in the next couple of days.

Campaign petition now closed

The petition to keep the BFI Library together and accessible, which attracted 1143 signatures in one month, has now closed. The results, together with the comments, have been forwarded to BFI Director Amanda Nevill.

The campaign continues — watch this space for updates.

Details of BFI plans for library and archive, including job cuts

BFI management draft proposals:

Restructure of Collections & Information


There are five key drivers in our proposal for the future structure of the Archive:

The cut to grant-in-aid, whilst managing the transition from the SHUK project and reducing the level of risk in income targets, means that we must find savings to ensure future stability.

We want to restructure the lab to recognise and capitalise upon existing skills and to prepare for the increasing convergence between film, video, audio and digital.

When the new Master Film Store opens we need to reabsorb the Collections Stabilisation team and make best use of their skills, address bottlenecks in acquisitions processing and servicing and prepare for increased digital delivery.

Accelerating the transition from analogue to digital requires the modernisation of our in-house telecine facility and the integration of the new scanner and digital workstation into our film conservation work, with a programme of training to equip a wider pool of staff with the skills to operate in this new environment.

The Collections Information Database (CID) and the integration of barcoding and workflow management will impact on all staff but will reduce the requirement for aspects of work process control currently managed by the business support team and production officers.

And in the Library:

The cut to Grant in Aid means we can no longer deliver all the services we might want to or once did as an organisation, but we want to be able to continue to offer a Library service.

Our strategic goal of bringing in investment to the Library through our Higher Education partnership is unlikely with the massive cuts to HE funding—although one-off individual research project awards are still anticipated.

As part of developing the Film Centre concept we knew we wanted to ally the work of the Library closely with our cultural plan and be more public audience facing.

As an organisation we want to deliver more digitally and remotely than be limited to analogue distribution through our own venues.

Estates Strategy is evolving but the sale of Stephen Street is still a key element in the thinking. With the BFI taking on new roles post-UKFC, this will evolve further.

Financial Target: £350k

A net saving of £150k in the Archive is required to ensure future stability within our reduced grant-in-aid, whilst managing the transition from the SHUK project (which is funding a number of staff) and reducing the level of risk in current income targets.

A net saving of £200k in the Library has been set to develop a new Library offer within a much smaller subsidy (almost half what we have now) and reconfigure what we offer in a smaller, but public space, at BFI Southbank.


The National Collection remains central to the BFI as a Royal Charter objective in its own right and as a resource to support the cultural programme. We aim to be a world class film and television archive and to act as a point of reference for moving image collections throughout the UK.

In recent years we have achieved a high level of success, significantly increasing the profile of the collections in our cultural programme and throughout the UK. The SHUK-SNC programme has enabled a significant improvement in collections management and conservation, with new environmentally controlled storage facilities for master film under construction; the introduction of a new collections management database well under way and the acquisition of new lab equipment, supporting our first moves into in-house digital film restoration.

We now need to consolidate these gains, ensure that all collections are housed in the best possible conditions, properly documented and made as widely accessible as possible, whilst meeting the financial challenge and maintaining our public profile.

We propose therefore to restructure to make best use of existing skills, to deploy our resources to address key areas of concern and to provide development opportunities for staff as we work to accelerate into increased digital delivery.

The Library collections are core to the development, care and interpretation of the national collection, and essential to the curatorial R&D and creation of knowledge that inform development of our cultural programme. Developing access to collections continues to be a key goal.

As a cultural organisation with limited public funding we can no longer afford to offer the levels of service we once did to HE or the depth of information we provide at the moment by phone and email. We believe that there is a market for a free library service, oriented towards the public rather than researchers and students and tied to audience development.

We propose therefore making our library offer part of our public offer, working with our education team to increase schools and young persons’ usage of the Library, whilst trying to retain higher education users through digitised delivery and a research offer at the Conservation Centre. We propose that even within a much-reduced subsidy we will be able to retain this, and deliver the reading room within BFI Southbank space, utilising the Gallery, mediatheque and education project spaces.

We will need off-site storage for much of the Collection, with changes to lead times for booking materials, and development of facilities at the Conservation Centre at Berkhamsted to offer research access (as well as partnered research on projects with our curators).


*C&I administration—a single cost centre replacing the current four; loss of two admin posts (one curatorial and one library).

*Curatorial team—introduce subject specialisms; loss of one post (assumed through voluntary redundancy). Curatorial unit will be required to document all moving image collections (including TV).

*Documentation—loss of three documentation editor posts; two new posts for management of CID and ongoing data integration (subject to extension of CID project and negotiation with IT). Team will manage data quality, terminology control and cataloguing standards and research & provide filmographic data for programme notes at the Southbank, credits for Sight & Sound and Gracenote.

*Related Collections—merge Special Collections and SPD to create a single team under Nathalie Morris – who will report to the Head Curator – with loss of one post (retirement) but the creation of two new positions to realise the potential of these collections for research and digital access.

*Conservation Department—bringing together film, video, audio and digital operations under a single Head of Conservation (Charles Fairall) with dedicated managers for film (new post), video and audio conservation, a lab manager (new post) and a conservation technology team incorporating digital operations, formed from Preservation Engineering. The lab will bring together printing and processing and a team of four conservation specialists transferred from the current TA / Collections Stabilisation teams. Loss of two posts (in wet lab and telecine—both retirements); vacant Senior Preservation Manager post deleted. Both Production Officer posts deleted. Loss of one post in Quality Control. Responsibility for quality rests with Film Conservation Manager and relevant curator(s).

*Video and audio lab—one vacant post deleted.

*Collections Management—a single unit to manage work flows through the archive and undertake collections care planning, formed from the current Business Support team, Donor Access and Curatorial Coordinator led by a Collections Manager (new post). One post in the section will be lost. Revised income targets and direct costs for donor access.

*Vaults & despatch—merger of these two business units to create a single team; loss of one post (retirement). Selected Gaydon staff will be trained to service master film; master servicing will be concentrated at Gaydon.

*Acquisitions & Access—a new team of Conservation Specialists formed from the current TA and Collections Stabilisation teams and servicing staff from Vaults & Despatch and the group of Film Technicians, less the four staff working in Film Conservation (see above) and two posts (retirements). One post will transfer in from Distribution. This team will be focussed on acquisition processing, repair and servicing of both viewing and master materials. We intend to modernise our in-house telecine facility by purchasing up to three desk-top HD telecine machines capable of handling archive film in various gauges. Staff from this team will be trained to operate these machines so that we may provide a digitisation-on-demand service.

*Conservation Specialists will be multiskilled and will be required to work in either “Acquisitions and Access” or the “Conservation Department” and will be moved between the two areas in order to promote skills acquisition and updating, and to meet business needs.

*Library—we will use 2011/12 to plan for relocation to Southbank. There will be 11 FTE posts in the Library to deliver the service, with a loss of one team leader post, one Library administrative post (See C&I Admin above), and 5.1 FTE posts (including one vacant post) from cataloguing & indexing, information and reading room. New posts will be multi-skilled to run the reading room and field enquiries as well as maintaining library stock and catalogue. This reduced staffing assumes the following:

That the facility is open 50 hours per week to the public.

Staff not required in the reading room may be required to work as required in the local stack or on the collections at Berkhamsted.

Investment in digitising some key collections to free staff from having to help users with antiquated systems.

No day and annual pass income—this will be a free offer.

Digital-on-demand and materials which need to be brought in will be charged.

That we develop school group visits and a public offer allied to the cultural programme.

Research viewings—Bookings for research viewings will be made by library staff, using the relevant CID workflow. Loss of one post (research viewings officer). Analogue viewing capability will be retained at Stephen Street during the transitional year and until digitisation on demand is available.

Business plan assumptions

A reduction of 22.7 FTE posts from across 142.6 FTE posts. 14.9 of these are redundancies, 5.4 are retirements, 2.4 are vacant post savings. Effective 1 April 2011, except one retirement effective 1 August 2011.

Four (FTE) new posts; two in Documentation (subject to extension of CID project and negotiation with IT); two in Related Collections. One post transferring in from Distribution, three from B2B.

Staff costs currently in SHUK transferred into C&I budget.

De-risked income targets in donor access, conservation and research viewings.

Maintained income from school group visits and photocopying; zero day and annual pass income; zero income from Film Index International; new income from digital-on-demand and other access charges.

Funding from commercial TV broadcasters continues to support off-air recording until proposed Redux-based solution is implemented, which may result in further change to curatorial and video conservation teams.

New role descriptions emphasising need for multi-skilling. Dedicated £30k training budget in year 1; will be required to offset costs transferred from SHUK in year 2.

New Collections Acquisition & Access team to work towards elimination of servicing and acquisition backlogs whilst maintaining access and implementation of digitisation on demand.

Capital investment in telecine (£435k) and digital storage (£270k); conversion of rooms in Conservation Centre to support research access (£100k); extension of CID to incorporate all collections databases (£100k); library to Southbank (£tbc).


Switchboard and routing of enquiries for BFI as a whole needs to be planned.

IT infrastructure to deliver digitised on demand materials and effective operation of CID and barcoding.

Support from HR for training programme.

Estates for reconfiguration of Conservation Centre building as required and library reading room at Southbank.

Planning of public library with Southbank education offer.