At an official Academy Member’s launch event, hosted by the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, actor and board member Liam Cunningham along with Academy Chief Executive Áine Moriarty, officially unveiled IFTA’s Five-year Strategic Development Plan 2020-2024.
Among the attendees were:
Amongst the members attending were Screen Ireland CEO Desiree Finnegan, Screen Ireland Chairperson Annie Doona; Former Screen Ireland CEO James Hickey, Screen Skills Ireland’s Manager, Gareth Lee & Neil Murphy, Elaine Geraghty from Screen Producers Ireland (SPI), Kathleen Gavin from Government’s Department of Education and Skills and IFTA Head of Film & Television Gar O’Brien.
IFTA Board Members such as film finance expert John Gleeson (Saffrey Champness), Múirne Laffan (Laffan labs), Nick Linnane (NLCO), Joe Ryan (Management Consultant) were also on hand alongside IFTA’s Committee Members including Former TG4 Commissioning Director Mícheál Ó Meallaigh, Broadcaster Brendan Courtney and Paul Young CEO of the multiple Oscar-Nominated Cartoon Saloon, who serves on IFTA’s Film Committee and is also the chair of IFTA’s Animation Chapter.
Members attending represented a broad spectrum of Irish filmmakers including; Irish Actors Stephen Rea, Deirdre O’Kane, Antonia Campbell Hughes, Moe Dunford, Jordanne Jones, Seán T Ó Meallaigh, Amy-Joyce Hastings; filmmakers Jim Sheridan, James Flynn, Macdara Kelleher, Lee Cronin, Mark O’Connor, Edwina Forkin, Nick Kelly, Seamus Deasy; Stefanie Preissner, Paul Donovan, Richie Bolger, Seán Murray, Cormac Fox, Dominic Wright, Billy McGrath, Brian O’Malley, Fiona Ashe, Caroline Grace Cassidy among others.
Other Members included Miriam O’Callaghan RTÉ, Elaine Crowley Virgin Media, Andrew Byrne Virgin media, Roger Childs, Amanda Brunker were also in the room along with Sheamus Smith, Eibh Collins, Shimmy Marcus of Bow Street Acting Academy and Jean Rice from IADT Film College. Distributors such as Audrey Sheils, Warner Bros., Patrick O’Neill, Wildcard Distribution, Glenn Hogarty, Limelight PR and Paul Ward from Omniplex.
The 5 Year Strategic development Plan – what it says
The Plan clearly outlines IFTA’s core vision, ambition and development plan for the Academy over the next five years; as an all-Ireland not for profit organisation and central Hub for the Irish filmmaking community; delivering its mission to encourage, reward and inspire professional excellence through a diverse year-round Programme of Learning events; mentoring, masterclasses, tributes, discussions, as well as delivering the annual Irish Academy awards.
IFTA was founded in 2003, and over the past 16 years has already delivered over c 450 learning events, 18 awards ceremonies, paid tribute and honoured 23 Irish industry Veterans with the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and has presented 694 Irish Academy Award statuettes to industry professionals, including Rising Star awards throughout the years to young talents such as Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Greene, John Michael McDonagh, Jamie Dornan among others.
In 2018 the Irish Government announced its intention to grow the Irish film industry and turn Ireland into a Centre of Excellence; doubling employment to 24,000 jobs and investing in the creative and cultural infrastructures that will in turn generate 1.4billion for the Irish economy.
In 2019, The Irish Academy welcomed this and knew the time was also right to reflect and take stock of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for the Academy in helping to grow the industry and to undertake a new strategic plan. This 5-year strategic development plan, as outlined to Government, delivers an important blueprint for the Academy’s next five years. It follows extensive consultation with key representatives and stakeholders within the film, television and animation production sector.
The 5-Year Plan attached includes 8 key objectives across the Academy’s Four Pillars (1)The Members; 2)Learning Programme of events; 3)Awards events; and 4) the John Ford Ireland – Film Symposium & the Academy Archive.
First among these objectives is the challenge of ensuring financial stability for the Academy. While the IFTA events and award ceremonies attract commercial sponsorship and partnership, it is more challenging for IFTA to source commercial funding for the Academy’s overhead/annual costs (infrastructure, staffing, office rental, equipment and technology etc.). The Academy also relies on Membership fees to help run the 12-month programme of learning events for its members.
Core Funding support is required strategically from Government via the Department of Culture, Heritage & The Gaeltacht and Department of Communications (from state agencies, public- service broadcasters, Government funding agencies etc.).
This is in keeping with best practice across Europe where European Film Academies are supported by their respective governments and state agencies, across their entire range of Academy activities, across their infrastructure and learning programmes and their Award ceremonies.
The Academy will expand its 12-month Programme of Learning events to include Mentorship programmes, Talent hub sessions, 3rd level partnerships, and more, to deliver a robust training and development programme for its members and the wider industry.
In line with Government’s expected growth for the industry over the coming five years IFTA plans to open its membership to increase from 1,240 Members to 3,000+ industry professionals. This will be achieved through the introduction of a tiered membership system and expansion of student membership and across sectors such as animation & gaming; and will ensure that professionals working across the full spectrum of the industry (North & South) are welcomed into the Academy.
With the right funding support in place, the Academy will prioritise the delivery of two high-calibre Award Ceremonies annually, representing Ireland North and South, and recognising excellence in Irish achievement, in front of and behind the camera. These awards will be delivered in line with best international practice. The Academy wishes to undertake Awards this year in 2020 with plans being put in place for a Ceremony end of May and details to be announced separately.
Other priorities include growing the John Ford Ireland Symposium into a truly global event; increasing public engagement, increasing the Academy and the Irish Industry’s presence on the international stage, and a long-term priority of securing a building for the Academy for members and the wider industry to come together.
Speaking at the Launch, IFTA Chief Executive Áine Moriarty said:
“As Ireland’s screen industry embarks on an ambitious new phase of growth, it is more vital than ever that professionals from all industry craft and disciplines (North & South) have a neutral, all-inclusive Hub at the heart of the industry and community; a space that can drive their creative and professional development and collaboration, that champions them on a national and international stage, and that allows for their creative excellence to be recognised and rewarded by their peers – The Academy is that space”.
“We look forward to continuing this important work for our members and to working with Government and industry stakeholders to help make Ireland a Global Centre of Excellence.”
Actor Liam Cunningham said:
“This next phase of growth for the Irish industry is absolutely critical, as we have such an opportunity now to take this to the next level. It’s not just film and television, but also gaming, animation and so much more. The Academy is right at the heart of all of this, supporting us all the way.”