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Thursday 18th December 2014

SWFTA Team End of Year Review - 2014

Photograph: SWFTA Christmas Party, 2014 @ B.E.D.

As thoughts turn to the new year, we’ve taken some time to look back over another hugely eventful year for SWFTA which included the start of a major BFI funded project, an exciting step forward in plans for the Plymouth International History Centre and the full relocation of the SWFTA archive to a new home!

In January, SWFTA staff welcomed on board three new project members of staff to begin the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage Project (UFH) working to reveal hidden jems within the SWFTA collection and in collaboration with the wider film archive network (FAUK) and the BFI. This preliminary work has recently resulted in SWFTA being awarded a second batch of funding which will be used to continue the project during 2015 with the appointment of additional project staff working alongside core archive technical personnel.

April saw the completion of another BFI funded initiative, our Preservation Partnership Project which began in May 2013 with the purpose of creating a new approach to engaging with volunteers. Under the direction of a Project Coordinator and Project Training Officer, new volunteers were recruited to test out the new approaches. Findings from the project were successfully disseminated with other heritage organisations working with or looking to work with volunteers. An end of project celebration event was held at Plymouth Arts Centre attended by core staff, trustees, volunteers and representatives from the local heritage and cultural community.

In May, following a period of concentrated collaborative effort between Plymouth City Council, SWFTA, the South West Image Bank and Plymouth University, we received the fantastic news that we passed Round One of the Plymouth International History Centre Project Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a major international culutral destination for the City. The original news article can be read here.  

Also in May, our Executive Archive Director took leave from the Archive to nurture an entirely different project as a new mum whilst retaining an input in important strategic level PIHC activity. During her maternity leave her various duties have been undertaken by a team of interim management staff appointed to safeguard and develop the archive. Their work has resulted in additional project funding from the BFI, development of numerous projects and partnerships, the recruitment of new volunteers and the creation of some exciting initiatives for the archive in fulfilment of SWFTA’s strategic and charitable aims.

June and July saw the relocation of SWFTA from the Royal William Yard – which had been SWFTA’s base for 15 years – to its new home in Catherine Street, at the heart of the City Centre. The move involved a massive team effort, led by the SWFTA Trustees, the interim management team and core archive staff with grateful support from the SWFTA volunteers and our wider support team of I.T. and technical personnel. Please read the original news item here

Following the move and subsequent reopening of the archive, SWFTA has welcomed numerous groups and organisations into the archive and has supported several onsite workshops benefitting in particular students from the University.

A new DVD was launched in November by our friends at AWEN as part of the HLF funded TRE Project which SWFTA has supported through the provision of footage.

In December, SWFTA announced a successful funding bid to the BFI to continue the groundwork laid by the original UFH team. This will result in the appointment of two key project staff, a Project Director and Project Metadata Officer, who will work alongside core staff in the development of the project, supplying titles for the BFI’s online BFI Player.

During the year, despite a period of closure to allow for the relocation of the archive to new premises, our fantastic core archive admin and technical staff have (to date) dealt with 460 research requests from professional broadcasters, independent production companies and from members of the public and the academic community, bringing in an impressive commercial income of around £14,000 to support vital core running costs.

All this combined serves to demonstrate just how varied and eventful the work of a single archive can be!

Once again, none of this would have been possible without the amazing support and generosity of our volunteers, the dedication and commitment of our staff and external support personnel, ongoing support from our funders, heritage and cultural partners and stakeholders and the support and guidance of our board of Trustees.

Isn’t it incredible what can be achieved in one year when a group of people with a shared passion and common purpose work together!

It is this spirit of teamwork which will continue to drive SWFTA forward in the New Year, and we have much to look forward to! In January, the next phase of the BFI’s Unlocking Film Heritage Project will begin and in February, we will welcome back our Executive Archive Director from maternity leave who will pick up the fantastic work which has been undertaken by our interim management team.

In addition to our ongoing important core activity, SWFTA will be working hard to develop new and existing partnerships and projects throughout 2015. Working with the BFI and the wider film archive network to develop joined up approaches to preserving our film heritage and working to develop our growing partnership with PCC, SWiB and the University as plans for the Plymouth International History Centre takes shape. 


From your SWFTA team.