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BAFTA board seeks membership shake-up

Members who have not worked in “a significant” production role in film, TV or video games in last five years will only be eligible to renew as associate (non-voting) members; membership categories to change.

The board of BAFTA (The British Academy of Film and Television Arts) is proposing changes to the criteria for its voting membership and membership categories.

A memo to BAFTA members dated 22 June, 2012, proposed that as of 1 June 2013, “members who have not worked in a significant role directly related to the production of feature films, broadcast television programming or video games during the last five years will only be eligible to renew as associate (non-voting members).”

The current criteria to be considered for full membership is that an individual must “currently work in and have at least 5 years’ experience in a creative, technical or executive role directly related to the production of feature films, broadcast television programming or video games.”

The modification is an attempt to cut the number of full members who have not been recently active in the film industry in a significant capacity.

However, members who have retired or otherwise left the industry following “a significant career” will be exempt from the rule change.

The memo describes “a significant career” as “twenty years in significant roles directly related to the production of feature films, broadcast television programming or video games.”

Each year, full members who are not retired will be required to give details of their recent work in roles fulfilling the requirement for full membership before renewing their membership.

BAFTA head of membership Jim Bradshaw told Screen that the move is being made to accommodate “a turnover of view points in the academy,” which currently totals approximately 6,500 full members. The in-demand film voting membership is the only category with a cap, meaning that there are currently around 300 full BAFTA members on a waiting list to be able to vote in the film category.

Bradshaw said he didn’t expect the changes to affect a large number of BAFTA members: “We’re talking about a hundred members, if that, every year. It will increase our normal drop off – about 80, or so, every year – but I don’t see that figure more than doubling.”

He clarified that the term ‘production’ in the memo is to be taken broadly:

“While BAFTA’s primary focus is on those people with credits in the field of production it is important to continue to have a variety of members who contribute to the industry in different ways. If existing members, still working in the industry, have been previously deemed significant enough to be part of  BAFTA, I imagine they will continue to be part of BAFTA. This mechanism is designed to affect those who have left the industry as a whole.”

In other proposed changes, the board is seeking to do away with the full (retired) rate and retired (non-voting) membership categories from June 2013. According to the memo, “members who are currently in these categories will be able to continue on them for a limited number of years, which will be determined by the board when and if the resolution is passed.”

BAFTA will no longer offer a reduced rate for retiring members who want to participate in awards voting.

The proposed changes will be voted on at a BAFTA board meeting in November. Fees for 2013/14 will be decided by the board at the same meeting. Bradshaw said he “anticipates a slight rise in fees due to inflation”.

Bradshaw added that he didn’t expect Los Angeles or New York members to be affected “any more or any less than other membership areas.”

The sought after full BAFTA membership includes film screenings and the significant bonus of DVD screeners courtesy of UK distributors campaigning for nominations.

Associate members, who pay a reduced subsciption fee, are eligible to attend screenings but distributors are unlikely to send screeners to members who are ineligible to vote.

Associate members with the BAFTA branches in Scotland, Wales, New York and Los Angeles have voting rights in the affairs of the branch but can’t vote in the affairs of the charity or stand for election to council for the sector committees.

Associate members in England and Northern Ireland can use the members’ bar at 195 Piccadilly. From 2013, the board is proposing that associate members in Scotland and Wales will also be able to use the bar for an increased (optional) fee.

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