Talking Pictures

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A Very BFI coup.

Posted by keith1942 on September 29, 2015

Harry Perkins

Harry Perkins with Sir Percy behind him!

The reference to the title of a novel and television adaptation is deliberate: so I should offer apologies to the character of Sir Percy Browne, who is a consumate operator. The actual example below is less urbane and pays less attention to detail.

The Board of Governors for the British Film Institute has announced an election for a Members’ Governor on the Board.

“Help shape the future of film

Call for nominations for the Governor Election 2015

The BFI Governors are guardians of Britain’s moving image culture and heritage and also help shape the strategic direction of the Government’s lead agency for film.

One BFI Governor is elected to serve a four-year term in office by BFI Membership and Sight & Sound subscribers. Due to an upcoming vacancy, we’re seeking nominations for candidates for a Governor Election.”

However, the notification sent out to members and S&S subscribers is somewhat ‘economical’ with the facts. This election is overdue by at least a year and there should be for two Governors elected by Members, one of which posts has been vacant for a couple of years. And the current Member, designated as Regional, should have been up for re-election in 2014.

Mark Newell helpfully pointed out some information buried in the BFI Report 2014/15. I used the term ‘buried’ advisedly as this was only to be found on page 52. The Report records two changes to the Member Governor posts: though it does not actually admit they are changes. It appears two posts have been reduced to one; and the period of the post extended from 3 to 4 years.

The supposed rationale for this is the follow up to the Triennial review of the BFI. However, the recommendations in that Review state that ‘no changes’ are recommended to the Member Governor posts.

This would appear to be the Governors and managers ‘sneaking through’ changes. I use those terms advisedly because there as been no notification to the electorate regarding this. The BFI regularly issues Press Releases when some establishment figure joins the Board. There have been none on these changes. Presumably there is some detail of this in the Board Minutes, but the delay in making these available on the BFI website increases all the time. Currently we are waiting for those of February 2015 to be posted.

And there was a similar tactical silence on the extension that was agreed to the Regional Member Governor post: which should have been up for re-election in the autumn of 2014. Electors were left to discover this when there was no election. The person occupying that post seems to be at one with the other Governors, since he never took the trouble to either consult or inform electors about this extension.

The information available to people with voting rights has decreased year by year. There is little information on the member’s pages and the Members Board seems equally defunct. As noted in earlier postings the Board now appears to consist entirely of people who work in London and who reside no more than 40 or 50 miles from the capital. The Triennial Report recommended Regional Representation but none of the current Governors are described as such. This is what should be termed a democratic deficit.

Harry Perkins, who graces the head of this post, had a favorite mantra – ‘it’s the will of the people’. One can hardly imagine any member of the Current Board of Governors chanting that refrain!


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