Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Update on Screensound in Australia

I thought I would post this message sent by Mr. Ray Edmundson in regards to Screensound Australia.

4 January 2005

Archive Forum welcomes restoration and new vision

Archive Forum has welcomed the broad vision for the National Film and Sound
Archive outlined in various forums during December by its new director, Dr
Paolo Cherchi Usai.

The restoration of the Archive's original, self explanatory name - National
Film and Sound Archive - is a practical and symbolic step which accords not
only with international norms but also with the long-expressed advice of the
Archive's broad constituency. The change unambiguously re-asserts the
Archive's stature and mission and re-connects it with its own proud history.
The Forum applauds this move. To quote Dr Cherchi Usai: "it's exciting to
call the Archive with the old name again."

The other announced moves - which include enhancing the international
dimension of the Archive's collection, developing a curatorial staff
culture, responding to both the advantages and limitations of digitization,
and affirming the equal balance between the three archiving functions of
acquisition, preservation and access - are both strategic and
philosophically sound. "The declaration that all the Archive's functions and
leadership will remain firmly headquartered in Canberra, as befits a major
national institution, is also welcome news", said Archive Forum chair,
Professor Chris Puplick.

In welcoming these developments, the Forum also noted that the overarching
issues of the Archive's governance, autonomy and security remain unresolved.
Unlike its peers, such as the National Library and National Museum, the
Archive still lacks the essential status of an independent
statutory authority, a principle which until recently enjoyed bipartisan
support. As part of the Australian Film Commission (AFC) since July 2003, it
now operates under an Act which does not even recognize its existence as an
entity. The Forum will continue to urge the passage of appropriate
legislation and the Archive's separation from the AFC.


1 March 2005

New structure encourages depth of knowledge, says Forum

Archive Forum has welcomed the new organisational top structure for the
National Film and Sound Archive, unveiled by director Paolo Cherchi Usai
this week. The curatorially-based structure is seen as a significant
statement of values for the institution which should help to foster a richer
intellectual environment.    

The five Canberra-based curatorial divisions - moving images, sound,
documents, access/outreach and indigenous collections - give a welcome
elevation to the Archive's paper and artefact collections and recognise its
long standing focus on indigenous materials.  

"This is change for the better", said Forum Chair Professor Chris Puplick.
"It should encourage the deepening of knowledge and of the Archive's
intellectual life, making it a more authoritative national institution. It
should lead to better informed collection building, decision making and
policy development. We look forward with anticipation to the release of
further details."

The new top structure is seen as a response to issues raised in Archive
Forum's initial discussion paper, A time for review, released in May 2003.
Forum member Dr Deb Verhoeven recalled that the paper canvassed concerns
about diminishing staff knowledge, disposal of collection material and the
limited nature of many Archive publications. "We called it intellectual
ambience: a climate of rigour and in-depth enquiry. It should be
characteristic of the independent statutory authority which the Archive
needs to become".

The Forum added that curatorial principles applied to access as well as
collection building and preservation, and endorsed Dr Cherchi Usai's recent
commitment to equally support both traditional cinema presentation and newer
forms of digital access. It urged the Archive's parent body, the Australian
Film Commission, to honour the Archive's professional autonomy by affirming
this and the other commitments already announced by Dr Cherchi Usai.

A time for review can be accessed at

The members of Archive Forum are Dr Ina Bertrand, Anthony Buckley AM, Ray
Edmondson OAM (Secretary), Tom Jeffrey AM, James Malone, Dr Sigrid
McCausland, Sue Milliken, Michael Organ, Professor Chris Puplick AM (Chair),
Graham Shirley, Merle Thornton, Dr Deb Verhoeven, Dr Mike Walsh, Storry
Walton AM, John Weiley