30 May 2007

BFI Publishing Update

Following letters of concern about their restructuring plans to BFI Director Amanda Nevill and Chair of the Board of Governors Anthony Minghella, on Friday 25 May a statement was circulated by BFI Head of Publishing informing recipients about the intention to seek external partners to take over the book list. The statement indicated that the BFI imprint would be protected and current contracts honoured in any arrangements with other publishers. However, it did not invite discussion with or input from BFI authors or the wider film and television education community. It simply said that we would be kept informed about progress and the final decision. In a separate email, Amanda Nevill stated that a fuller statement about the BFI's plans would be circulated within a week.

That statement arrived by email today. It outlines the BFI's achievements over the past three years, the impact of financial constraints on the organisation's future activities, and the extensive plans for reorganising its activities. Those plans will proceed in stages, and the first phase will affect the following operations: BFI Book Publishing; footage sales; film sales; the stills collection; DVD production and sales; Sight and Sound magazine; and BFI membership. The BFI library is not mentioned as part of the first phase. As far as BFI Publishing is concerned, the statement indicates management's proposal to 'remove BFI Book Publishing from the direct management and responsibility of the BFI whilst retaining the imprint and close association between BFI books and the overall cultural programme. This will be effected by a sale, merger or outsourcing arrangement.'

Amanda Nevill affirms her willingness to discuss these developments in more detail, so anyone who would like to see the full statement, or would like clarification of how these decisions were reached, should email her at amanda.nevill@bfi.org.uk. She also states that she will write again as soon as there is further information.

Matters are moving very fast, and anyone affected by or concerned about the BFI's profound policy changes should make their voice heard as soon as possible. The decision to dispose of BFI Publishing will have far-reaching effects and should be discussed openly and democratically with everyone who has a stake in the future of the BFI.

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