Strategic Priority 1: A 'Living' Archive - for everyone

Our collection needs to be accessible, interpreted and shared, so that it forms an ongoing part of the evolution of our culture and is not simply an assortment of stored materials that are frozen in time. Our cultural programs are national in scale and founded in the national audiovisual collection. They celebrate our screen and sound heritage, reflect the Australian experience and share our history, promoting greater cultural diversity. Working in an inclusive, collaborative manner with communities and partners will ensure that the stories in the collection are communicated as widely and as deeply as possible.

Outcome: Australia’s national audiovisual collection is accessible to all for enjoyment, study and cultural and creative re-use.

Table 1: Strategic priority 1: A ‘Living’ Archive—For Everyone
Objective Initiatives/strategies to achieve against outcome and objectives, 2017–18 to 2020–21 Target 2017–18 Result 2017–18
Objective 1A Increase people’s engagement with the collection through public programs, education activities, and national and international partnerships 1A.1 Deliver public programs, screenings and education activities both nationally and internationally 75,000 visits to the organisation* 88,848
13,500 people participating in public programs* 29,506
20,000 students participating in school programs** 13,315
90% of teachers reporting overall positive experience** 93%
90% of teachers reporting relevance to the classroom curriculum** 87%
NFSA Education Strategy successfully implemented Partially Implemented
Objective 1B Develop an online presence that is contemporary, relevant and imaginative and which facilitates access to the collection 1B.1 Continue to develop NFSA.gov.au and the NFSA’s social media platforms to be contemporary and relevant, and facilitate access to the collection 1,500,000 visits to the organisation’s website* 1,136,435
1 million YouTube views 3,961,590
10 million Facebook users (daily reach) 6,868,313
1B.2 Use digital delivery to extend and deepen online and offsite visitor experiences Digital Engagement Strategy is developed and successfully implemented Partially achieved
Objective 1C Maintain a physical presence in all states and territories, enabling access to the collection and our programs 1C.1 Work with partner organisations to develop and deliver a mobile access hub engaging the public with collection material and NFSA programs in a range of venues across Australia Collaboration is initiated to develop project plan for a mobile access hub Achieved
1C.2 Maintain a physical presence via office spaces and access centres in each state and territory Physical presence maintained in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra Achieved
Objective 1D Promote creative use and re-use of the national collection 1D.1 Address risk appetite regarding creative use and re-use of the collection Increase risk appetite of rights management practices by reviewing current copyright status of collection items and identifying them for re-use by our stakeholders Achieved
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
*PBS 2017–18 target
** PBS 2017–18 target and DoCA KPI
 

Objective 1A

Increase people’s engagement with the collection through public programs, education activities, and national and international partnerships

1A.1 Deliver public programs, screenings and education activities both nationally and internationally

Target Result
75,000 visits to the organisation* 88,848
13,500 people participating in public programs* 29,506
20,000 students participating in school programs** 13,315
90% of teachers reporting overall positive experience** 93%
90% of teachers reporting relevance to the classroom curriculum** 87%
NFSA Education Strategy successfully implemented Partially Implemented
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
*PBS 2017–18 target
** PBS 2017–18 target and DoCA KPI
 

What we achieved

In 2017–18 a total of 42,821 people participated in NFSA public programs, screenings and education activities, exceeding our annual target. Our programs offer a mix of screenings, presentations, live performances and events that reach audiences throughout Australia, including regional and remote communities as well as internationally.

NFSA Restores

The year 2017–18 saw the greatest profile to date for our NFSA Restores program, which digitises, restores and preserves classic Australian films to the highest archival standards, allowing them to be seen in today’s digital cinemas.

At the Melbourne International Film Festival 2017, we premiered our restoration of Shame (Steve Jodrell, 1988). The screening on 13 August was introduced by its star, Deborra-lee Furness, and supported by cast and crew from the production, including Jodrell and Simone Buchanan.

Digby Duncan’s camera captured the first Mardi Gras parade in 1978 and our restoration of her documentary Witches and Faggots, Dykes and Poofters (1980) enjoyed a sold–out screening at the Sydney Queerscreen Festival on 25 February 2018. The film enjoyed similar success at screenings in Canberra and Brisbane.

Our digital restoration of My Brilliant Career (1979) screened at the Sydney Film Festival 2018 on 13 June where NFSA Ambassador Margaret Pomeranz hosted a Q&A with director Gillian Armstrong. The film also screened at Arc cinema, where costume designer Anna Senior shared memories of the production.

We also debuted restorations of silent films including The Cheaters (Paulette McDonagh, 1929) and three films featuring Reginald ‘Snowy’ Baker—The Man From Kangaroo (Wilfred Lucas, 1919), The Sword of Valor (Duke Worne, USA, 1924) and The Empire Builders (Duke Worne, USA, 1924). The Cheaters premiered at Arc cinema in January with a live jazz score from musician Joe Dolezal. The three Snowy Baker films debuted at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane on Anzac Day, all three with a live score from pianist Mauro Colombis.

Our restorations toured the country with screenings of the documentaries For Love Or Money (Megan McMurchy, Margot Nash, Margot Oliver and Jeni Thornley, 1983), Rocking the Foundations (Pat Fiske, 1985) and My Survival as an Aboriginal (Essie Coffey, 1978).

A number of NFSA Restores titles were screened at international events including The Year My Voice Broke (John Duigan, 1987) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, My Brilliant Career and Starstruck (Gillian Armstrong, 1982) at the Swedish Film Institute, My Brilliant Career at the TCM Classics Festival in Los Angeles, Starstruck and Shame at the Australian Screen Forum in New York and Three Days to Live (Tom Gibson, USA, 1924) at the Pordenone Silent Film Festival 2017, Italy.

Right There On My TV

Our Right There On My TV event at the St Kilda Film Festival on 21 May 2018 looked at the early days of Australian music television and featured guests John Paul Young, Greg Evans and Lee Simon. Our TV curators developed a showreel of 1970s programs that championed music and music videos. Lee Simon shared memories of his successful Nightmoves while Greg Evans talked about the pilot episode of the unaired show Soundcheck.

National and International Screening Loans

Through our screening loan services we provide national and international access to rare prints of Australian and non-Australian titles.

During the year we provided 20 different films for 17 international venues reaching total audiences of more than 2986 people. Venues included the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Arava Film Festival in Israel.

Nationally, we loaned 62 titles to 16 cinemas. Total audiences for theatrical screenings exceeded 10,032 people. Highlights included loans to the Melbourne Women in Film Festival, the Castlemaine Local and International Film Festival, the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, the Australian Cinematheque in Melbourne and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. Our Non-Theatrical Lending Collection (NTLC) provides low-cost loans to film societies, community groups, public libraries, cultural institutions, schools and universities.

This collection of over 18,000 titles represents significant Australian and world cinema. The NTLC comprises feature, short, documentary, educational and experimental film on formats including DVD, Blu-ray and 16mm film. In 2017–18 we loaned over 847 film titles that were screened by 119 organisations across Australia to audiences in excess of 16,305 people.

Black Screen

Black Screen provides free community access to contemporary short films and documentaries by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander directors, producers and screenwriters. The program remains in high demand around the country, part of an ever-increasing awareness of—and desire for—Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories and films. Black Screen events are often part of community celebrations and festivals in regional and remote areas, such as NAIDOC Week, Sorry Day and National Reconciliation Week. Attendance at Black Screen for 2017–18 totalled 4066, achieving our target.

Australian Mediatheque

Since 2009 we have presented the Australian Mediatheque with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne, giving access to a large collection of audio and video content from the NFSA and ACMI collections. The Mediatheque closed on 17 September 2017 and we continue to work closely with ACMI to deliver our collection material in fresh and innovative ways.

From 1 July to 30 September 2017 there were 4551 visitors to the Mediatheque.

Arc cinema and Canberra public programs

At Arc cinema in Canberra we present the diversity of Australian and international classic and contemporary cinema. As well as having a 4K digital projector, Arc is the only cinema in Canberra that continues to screen celluloid film, and one of only a handful nationally. During the year Arc hosted many key national touring film festivals and our own curated program.

Highlights for 2017–18 included:

  • Mabo: Life of an Island Man (Trevor Graham, 1997) 5 July 2017
  • Pandora’s Box (GW Pabst, Germany, 1924)—accompanied by a live string quartet led by Jen Anderson and playing her score 7 July 2017
  • People of the Western Desert (1965, 1967)—including discussion with filmmaker Ian Dunlop 21–22 July 2017
  • Breaking of the Drought (Franklyn Barrett, 1920)—with live musical score from Canberra musician Joe Dolezal and band 8 August 2017
  • a talk about Hollywood actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr for National Science Week 16 August 2017
  • The Year My Voice Broke (John Duigan, 1987) and Flirting (John Duigan, 1991)—introduced by cinematographer Geoff Burton 26 August 2017
  • Arab Film Festival 1–2 September 2017
  • Dario Argento—a season of films by the Italian horror maestro in partnership with Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art 20–29 September 2017
  • Czech and Slovak Film Festival 11–14 October 2017
  • Canberra International Film Festival 25 October– 6 November 2017
  • Iranian Film Festival 18–19 November 2017
  • Circus home movies—presented by NFSA curator Tara Marynowsky as part of the ANU conference ‘Science and Circus’ 4 April 2018
  • Music video trivia night hosted by our music curators 14 April 2018
  • In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America (Maurice Fitzpatrick, Ireland, 2017)—screened in partnership with Embassy of Ireland 24 April 2018
  • a season of jazz films including Rolf de Heer’s Dingo (1991) May 2018
  • The Story of the Kelly Gang (Charles Tait, 1906)—with a live performance of voices and sound effects developed by our education staff and filmed for the History Channel series Aussie Inventions 21 May 2018
  • Black Divaz (Adrian Russell Wills, 2018)—documentary screening about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander drag queens followed by live performances and Q&A with artists from the film 1 June 2018.

We also continued to host regular public programs and weekly screenings. These include the popular monthly Vinyl Lounge, where vinyl lovers bring their favourite records to share, and our consistently sold-out Ghost Tours of the NFSA Headquarters.

During summer 2017–18, we supported the exhibition ‘Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits’ with a program of films and talks. Guest presenters included Ann Turner (Celia, 17 November), David Elfick (Rabbit-Proof Fence, 6 December), Bruce Smeaton (The Cars That Ate Paris, 8 December), Rolf de Heer (The Tracker, 15 December), Judith Dorsman (Caddie, 8 January), Anna Senior (The Getting of Wisdom, 9 January), Richard Lowenstein and Glenys Rowe (Dogs in Space, 13 January).

Engaging with students

Our popular Canberra-based schools program won the 2018 Canberra Region Tourism Award for Best Education Program. The prize reflects the hard work of our Education team in building new programs directly targeting areas of the Australian Curriculum not presented at other cultural and tourism destinations.

A total of 13,315 students from across Australia enjoyed our live presentations.

While this total did not meet our target of 20, 000 it was an increase on our 2016-17 total of 13, 056. This target was ambitious and based on our strong repeat business. However, as most school bookings are made in advance, our bookings are still reflecting the two years we closed school bookings while we reviewed and redeveloped our programs.

NFSA Education Strategy

We engaged Venture Consulting to develop a long-term Education Strategy for the NFSA. In their final report (December 2017) Venture Consulting recommended that we broaden the scope of the project and investigate more expansive modes of educational engagement through partnerships and online platforms. It is expected that the strategy will be completed in the second half of 2018-19.

Objective 1B

Develop an online presence that is contemporary, relevant and imaginative, and which facilitates access to the collection

1B.1 Continue to develop NFSA.gov.au and the NFSA’s social media platforms to be contemporary and relevant, and facilitate access to the collection

Target Result
1,500,000 visits to the organisation’s website* 1,136,435
1 million YouTube views 3,970,418
10 million Facebook users (daily reach) 6,868,313
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
PBS 2017–18 target
PBS 2017–18 target and DoCA KPI
 

What we achieved

Our website NFSA.gov.au, launched in November 2016, continued to win awards this year including: W3 Awards (Silver—Government Website), Interactive Media Awards (Best in Class—Arts/Culture, Best in Class—Government) and Davey Awards (Gold—Government Website).

While unique visits to the site decreased (in part because of technical issues), we regularly added new, relevant and engaging content across the website including 34 curated collections, two online exhibitions and 82 blog articles. Notable publishing successes included collections dedicated to the 1980s, Phar Lap and The Mike Walsh Show, and our Strictly Ballroom online exhibition, each of which garnered extensive national media coverage and online visits.

We also further consolidated our Digital Learning legacy websites and Australian Screen website, re-invigorating and publishing key content from these sites on NFSA.gov.au. We collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery to create a companion website to our ‘Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits’ exhibition, which was viewed by over 13,300 people.

We reached 13,313,583 users on social media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and SoundCloud).

In 2017–18 our YouTube channels exceeded our target with a combined 3.9 million views and an average duration of 2 minutes 45 seconds for our films channel, and 2 minutes 4 seconds for our corporate channel. These views represent 10,040,215 minutes watched by the public. The most successful video of the year was the 1970 film The Big Island, which became our first title to surpass one million views, currently at 1,748,785 views.

Other NFSA platforms also saw an increase in reach: Twitter impressions were up by 22%, while SoundCloud plays grew by 1%.

Our Facebook reach in 2016–17 was skewed by the success of two videos that went viral (Melbourne 1910 and Daredevil Chariots), whose performance could not be replicated this year. Additionally, changes implemented by Facebook to its newsfeed algorithm in January 2018 have caused a significant drop in reach for all pages. This combination has resulted in a year-on-year change in audience reach from 1.6m in 2015–16 to 13.9m in 2016–17 and 6.8m in 2017–18. Despite this variation, Facebook remains our strongest social media platform with high levels of engagement. Our page consistently reaches the top five in ‘Engagement This Week’ among Australian cultural institutions in Facebook’s ‘Pages to Watch’. Additionally, our Facebook page reached 20,000 followers in September 2017 and 24,000 by the end of 2017–18.

1B.2 Use digital delivery to extend and deepen offsite and online visitor experiences

Target Result
Digital Engagement Strategy is developed and successfully implemented Partially achieved
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
 

What we achieved

By implementing the Digital Engagement Strategy, we are extending and deepening offsite and online visitor experiences. Our online offering is growing consistently with an ongoing content publication schedule grounded in topicality.

Our website nfsa.gov.au reached a milestone in September 2017 with 100 curated collections available to the public, covering a wide range of topics and representing all of our collecting areas. In addition to generating traffic to our websites and social media platforms, our online collections increase our profile, with the regular presence of our content and stories on broadcast media.

Curated collections such as 1980s, Phar Lap, The Mike Walsh Show, Dame Edna Everage and various Capital City Time Capsules, have all been featured in news stories on national television, radio and online platforms.

We also launched two new online exhibitions, one dedicated to Baz Luhrmann’s film Strictly Ballroom (on the occasion of its 25th anniversary) and the other to rock singer Jimmy Barnes. The exhibitions were supported by Paul Mercurio and Tara Morice, and Jimmy Barnes respectively, resulting in new interviews generated for the NFSA collection.

Our participation in the Museum Dance Off international competition also exposed our work, staff and facilities to online audiences worldwide, receiving 46,730 votes to help us win the Australian title. (See snapshot: Celebrating our Staff).

Case Study: STARSTRUCK

On 9 November 2017 the NFSA and the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) celebrated the public opening of the exhibition ‘Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits’.

(L-R) Angus Trumble, Director of NPG; Helen Nugent, Chair of NPG Board; Gabrielle Trainor, Chair of NFSA Board; Toni Cody, NFSA Board; Fiona Scott, NFSA Board; Jillian Broadbent, NPG Board; Peter Rose, NFSA Board; Jan Müller, CEO of NFSA.

An equal creative partnership, the exhibition was the first collaboration of its kind between our National Collecting Institutions. ‘Starstruck’ was the result of three years of planning and it was supported by funding from the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach program.

It was also the first major survey of the role of portraiture in cinema, primarily drawn from our extensive photographic collection. The project included a cross-curatorial exhibition team led by Jennifer Coombes (NFSA Curator, Documents and Artefacts) and Penny Grist (NPG Assistant Curator), a large-scale digitisation project that created over 2500 digital images, an exhibition catalogue and a website.

Over 275 items featured in the exhibition, including casting shots, stills taken on set, proof sheets, continuity polaroids, iconic film costumes and rare posters. We exhibited Cinesound casting books from the 1930s with hundreds of headshots of aspiring actors and also made them available on screens as digital flipbooks.

Our two organisations collaborated closely on public programming with an extensive program of NFSA film screenings and talks alongside events at the NPG. A co-written publication addressed photography and portraiture’s place in the history of Australian filmmaking.

 

Abbie Cornish puts her hand up against a mirror in a scene from the film Somersault

Abbie Cornish as Heidi by Matt Nettheim in Somersault (Cate Shortland, 2004) featured in Starstruck: Australian Movie Portraits exhibition. 

The exhibition launch in November 2017 generated 236 news stories in the first 48 hours across radio, print, online and television including Seven, Nine, Ten and the ABC. Media stories were syndicated nationally across capital cities and regional stations.

‘Starstruck’ was noted in Senate Estimates in 2016 as an effective and sustainable cross-institutional integration of resources. The website starstruck.gov. au has received two Communicator Awards and is nominated for a Museums Australasia Multimedia and Publication Design Award.

‘Starstruck’ will tour Australia over the next two years in two incarnations. It will open at the Samstag Museum in Adelaide in September 2018 and will travel to the Gold Coast and Bathurst in 2019. A smaller customised exhibition, ‘Starstruck: On Location’, will open at Childers Art Space in Queensland in April 2019.

Objective 1C

Maintain a physical presence in all states and territories, enabling access to the collection and our programs

1C.1 Work with partner organisations to develop and deliver a mobile access hub engaging the public with collection material and NFSA programs in a range of venues across Australia

Target Result
Collaboration is initiated to develop project plan for a mobile access hub Achieved
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
 

What we achieved

During 2017–18 we partnered with design firm Mentally Friendly to develop a prototype application to allow mobile access to our collection through a digital ‘pop-up’. The prototype was tested with audiences in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra and allows for individualised user engagement with our collection. We are planning further development of the pop-up for 2018–19, including opportunities for further national and even international access.

The Australian Mediatheque, a partnership project with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), has provided virtual access to our collection through their Melbourne facility since 2009. The Mediatheque closed on 30 September 2017 and had 4551 users in the 2017–18 year. We continue to work closely with ACMI to explore options to deliver our collection material in fresh and innovative ways.

1C.2 Maintain a physical presence via office spaces and Access Centres in each state and territory

Target Result
Physical presence maintained in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra Achieved
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
 

What we achieved

Beyond our Canberra Headquarters we operate offices in Sydney and Melbourne, and we have state Access Centres based in the State Libraries (see appendix 1 for contact details and locations). Through these centres and our online resources, we support access to our collection for all Australians and for researchers, enthusiasts and people working in the creative industries worldwide.

Objective 1D

Promote creative use and re-use of the national collection

1D.1 Address risk appetite regarding creative use and re-use of the collection

Target Result
Increase risk appetite of rights management practices by reviewing current copyright status of collection items and identifying them for re-use by use and our stakeholders Achieved
Criterion source: Corporate Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 page 5 and PBS page 161
 

What we achieved

In 2017–18 we continued researching and verifying the rights status of our collection items, ensuring that updated information is readily identifiable in our collection database. This provided a significant increase in the number of items available for re-use by us and our stakeholders.