National

The National Film and Sound Archive turns around its fortunes

The National Film and Sound Archive appears to be turning around its fortunes almost two years after a bleak report slammed the agency.

Stable finances: The National Film and Sound Archive.
Stable finances: The National Film and Sound Archive. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

The archive no longer has the forecasted problem of cash deficits plaguing its books.

A business review given to the agency's board in March 2014 found a litany of major inefficiencies at the archive.

It said the archive had been unsuccessful in managing its finances and had operated "in the past", despite trying to position itself as an archive of the future.

At the time, serious cash flow problems loomed in the organisation's budgeted out years – deficits edged closer unless major changes were made – as the business "spread itself too thin".

Almost two years later, the archive's general manager of collections, Meg Labrum, said the archive's financial situation was now stable due to prudent expenditure and strong financial management.

"Cash deficits are not forecast for the out years and, again with careful financial management and clearly prioritised programs, we will continue to operate within our financial means," she said.

Part of the turnaround has been caused by a staffing restructure that made 17 voluntary redundancies of full-time equivalent staff.

As part of its 2015–2018 strategic plan, the archive aimed to increase revenue from government and private sources.

It was planning to raise more money from fundraising, including finding more philanthropic revenue, and to save money by reviewing its property portfolio in NSW and Victoria.

"Unless we substantially increase revenue, from government as well as private sources, the organisation will run the risk of underperforming on a range of government expectations and will not be able to deliver to our constituencies what they are entitled to expect," the strategic plan said.

One of the archive's challenges was to digitise its collection or "perish".

"If large-scale digitisation is not addressed, the majority of the national audiovisual collection will be rendered inaccessible in a digital environment and to future generations," the plan said.