Monday, May 14, 2012

The wheels on the bus...

The announcement a couple of days ago by the Film Board of the departure in July of Production Executive Alan Maher suggested that there might be other changes on the way. It is not a time in the public service to be losing staff, given the embargo on recruitment, unless their replacement has prior approval, perhaps as part of a 're-structuring' process.

So it was not too surprising to see the following announcement on the IFB website today:
Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (BSÉ/IFB) today announced changes to the organisation of the creative decision making structures in the Agency.
The current roles of two Production Executives and a Development Executive are to cease once the current contracts expire on a phased basis from now to the beginning of next year. In their place, three Project Managers will be retained to manage projects across all genres from the initial concept stage right through to the project launch onto the market. The new structure will provide multiple access points for applicants who will have the option to approach any one of the three Project Managers with a development or production application for their project.
One of the Project Managers will be based in Galway and two will be based in Dublin.
The new arrangements will also ensure an enhanced rigour to the development and production of projects supported by BSÉ/IFB and a greater focus from the start on consistent support for the creative talent in each project and a renewed focus on the audience throughout the whole process.
James Hickey, Chief Executive of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said "I believe that the new structure will provide applicants with access to a broadly experienced creative team. A member of the team will assist applicants in taking their project from the first stage of development to full scale production and distribution of the film with a focus on delivering high quality projects with strong Irish creative talent behind them and a focus on audiences both local and international".
The changes will come into effect on a phased basis but will be fully operational by the beginning of 2013.

This means that the positions now occupied by Alan Maher, Emma Scott and Andrew Meehan will cease to exist by the end of this year. It will be interesting to see if the Board will employ people or seek tenders in order to 'retain' the three new Project Managers.

The change mirrors that which took place some years ago when a number of positions were dispensed with and a new, supposedly 'flatter' structure was put in place. One sensed at the time that part of the (unspoken) reasoning was that people in such positions should not hold them sufficiently long, or have their contracts renewed so often, that they could claim permanancy under employment legislation.

Of course there is nothing to stop the Board instituting the process changes mentioned in today's release while using their existing staff in their existing positions.

One also senses, particularly in the area of 'Creative' Co-Production, that these staff may have been under-utilised when the previous CEO was in charge. It is difficult to see how, for instance, the Development Executive's input could have been required on the many productions which were originated in other countries. Perhaps I'm wrong.

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