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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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Triennial Review for the British Film Institute

Posted by keith1942 on April 6, 2014

An earlier filmed review

An earlier filmed review

The online notice below appeared on the bfi and DCMS WebPages on March 28th. However, I only found out when Mark Newell kindly emailed me with the information. This does seem rather typical of the bfi and government consultations. There has not exactly been a flurry of information or publicity around this. I have not found anything regarding this in Sight & Sound, which one would suppose was an obvious place to catch the attention of people interested in the work of the bfi. Now there remain only just on three weeks to send in comments. However, it does provide an opportunity to feed in comments, suggestions and complaints about this important film institution.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has launched a triennial review of the BFI.
It is a standard requirement by the Cabinet Office for all Government departments to review their agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) at least once every three years to ensure that they are still needed and are complying with principles of good corporate governance.

The aim of this review of the BFI is two-fold:
• Stage one: to examine whether there is a continuing public need for all functions performed by the BFI and if so, to determine if the BFI should deliver them or if there is an alternative delivery model.
• Stage two: to look at the control and governance of the BFI to make sure we are complying with recognised governance principles and delivering our functions effectively and efficiently.

If you would like to take part in this review you can do so by responding to an online questionnaire. The questionnaire will remain online for four weeks, starting on Friday 28 March and finishing on Monday 28 April. The review team expects to report in the summer.
For more information about Triennial Reviews and the process, visit the Government services website.

Ways to respond
Respond online or Email to:
Write to: Department for Culture, Media & Sport
100 Parliament Street

Mark, with great promptness, has already sent in comments. He kindly agreed to let this Blog reproduce his letter. He has clearly raised some important and central issues about the bfi. Hopefully our readers will be stimulated to follow his example. I have looked through the questionaire on the DCMS site – I think letters would serve better! Anyway,  I suspect readers  will have other key issues to add. Given the paucity of information it would be a good idea to pass this information on to other interested parties. I should also note that the next meeting of the Board of Governors is fixed for April 29th: presumably to discuss the review among other matters. As Roy posted they have added more metropolitan members of the establishment to their number. However, according to the November and January minutes [posted on the bfi WebPages] they have not given any more thought to the reduction in Member Governors.

 020 8 390 19384/4/14

The Rt. Hon. Maria Miller, M.P.
Secretary of State                
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
100 Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ
Dear Maria Miller,
The British Film Institute
The BFI should now review as promised its new rules for the conduct of Member Governor Elections. These were introduced about three years ago and have resulted in three failed polls and finally, in 2013, in the temporary (or permanent?) removal of one of the two Member Governor posts. At the present time the Board has given no indication as to what will happen when the one remaining “regional” Member Governor’s term expires this September. Members are justifiably concerned that their views are neither heard nor properly represented.
Film enthusiasts subscribe to the BFI Southbank’s monthly guide in the main to see films that cannot be viewed elsewhere. One of the more popular themes is Archive film. In 2013 this programme strand was drastically cut to enable work to be carried out on digitisation. It should be restored as soon as possible.
Useful as the BFI Player and the Mediatheque are, they’re no substitute for seeing films on the big screen with an audience.
Yours sincerely,
Mark Newell


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