Three-D Issue 17: Practice Network event and policy review

Joanna Callaghan
University of Bedfordshire

In June the Practice Network supported the annual Journal of Media Practice symposium on the 24th June at the Watershed in Bristol, hosted by UWE Bristol. The one-day symposium explored how digital technologies have redefined creativity and media practice within the academy both in terms of teaching and research, with a dynamic programme of presentations ranging from a QR Workshop, multi-screen film practice and locative media projects to discussions of creativity and pedagogy in the post-digital age. I had the opportunity to make a short presentation about MeCCSA and to meet with members to discuss ideas for events and garner opinion on directions for the network. The event was attended by 60 delegates from a range of institutions and industry and was organised by Charlotte Crofts, with the support of Nick Triggs, Judith Aston, Sam Kinsley, Helen Kennedy and Jon Dovey. The MeCCSA Practice Network supported the event through a number of bursaries offered to postgraduate students and fractional staff.

DCMS Film Policy Review
In September the Practice Network submitted a proposal in response to the DCMS Film Policy Review consultation. This was initiated by John Adams from the University of Bristol, based on his recent paper ‘UK Film: New directions in the glocal era’ (Journal of Media Practice 12:2, pp.111-124; http://jmpscreenworks.com/?s=papers).The proposal made the case that HE has a central role to play within the terms of the policy review brief (building a new model for UK film, setting policy directions for lottery funding, developing UK talent and creativity, increasing audience demand for film). This position was consolidated when John was invited to present themes arising from his paper to the DCMS Film Policy Review panel, together with a small group including Charlotte Crofts and myself as representatives of HE practice. In terms of sectional interests, we see this as a major opportunity to open up funded opportunities for practice teaching and research partnerships. Here John outlines the main elements:

“The presentation focused on the first DCMS policy objective, which is to determine how best to set policy directions for the increased Lottery funding. We advocated a shift in public sector funding from film production to cultural production on the basis that the digital era is redefining relations between producers and consumers. Funding should therefore be directed into audience development, where audiences are increasingly participants in rather than simply consumers of cinema – now in a medium of multiple forms and interconnected processes. It suggested four principles as the basis for public sector funding:

  • place audiences at the heart of policy i.e. prioritise audience development and participation through supporting this aspect of the work of independent cultural producers e.g. media exchanges.
  • focus on digital technologies, which disrupt established models and practices and enable new, holistic approaches to the matrix of emerging relations and interactions between development, production, distribution, exhibition, audiences, talent development, communities and education;
  • incentivise research and development partnerships between independent media networks, creative industries, the education sector, and communities through seed and partnership funding;
  • devolve decision making on funding allocations to regional level (within a framework of national strategy) in order to engage with diverse audiences and realise the national and global potential of regional cultural and creative media producers across the UK.

These principles should provide the prism through which the other DCMS policy objectives should be viewed. In each of these areas HE has an important role to play, particularly in addressing DCMS concerns around talent and creativity. Members of the Practice network are well equipped to model new relations between distribution, exhibition, production and new media at regional level. We would be equally well placed to access Lottery funded initiatives through the development of partnerships (cultural bodies, local authorities, community group, creative industries) at local, national and international level. How these opportunities will materialise depends on the outcome of the complex and unresolved issues around relations between the BFI and Creative England” (John Adams, Professor of Film & Screen Media Practice (emeritus) School of Arts, University of Bristol).

The full submission is available on the MeCCSA website and thanks go to John for this timely and important intervention.

Posted by Einar Thorsen