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Filmbase to go into liquidation after 32 years

The organisation is going into voluntary liquidation due to debts that have accumulated to the point where it is ‘unrealistic’ to continue operations.
Mar 15th 2018, 1:02 PM 35,224 13

FILMBASE, THE DUBLIN organisation which supports filmmakers in Ireland, is set to close after 32 years and go into voluntary liquidation.

The Temple Bar-based members-led organisation was founded in 1986 and offers courses, exhibition space, equipment on loan to filmmakers and access to film funding.

It is also responsible for the website Film Ireland, which reviews and discusses work by Irish filmmakers. It is due to close down due to debts that it has accumulated.

In a statement today, Filmbase said the decision was “reached with great sadness”:

It is with great sadness that the staff, management and board of Filmbase announce that, after thirty two years of serving the Irish film community, the organisation is coming to a close. Filmbase has been fighting for many years against difficult financial circumstances and as a not for profit organisation that fight has always been a tough and challenging one.
Debts which had accumulated at the organisation had reached a point where it was unrealistic for Filmbase to continue operations. This is a decision which has been reached with great sadness by all involved and the organisation will now move into Voluntary Liquidation.

Filmbase said that since 1986 it “has occupied an important place in the Irish film landscape giving many of this country’s greatest film talents the early support they have needed to begin their careers and to develop their creative voices”.

Many people will remember Filmbase as a creative community, a hub to discuss and debate film and filmmaking, a networking space to meet likeminded filmmakers, and the catalyst for ideas, scripts, projects and partnerships which have enriched Irish film culture in innumerable ways.

Financial difficulties

The Arts Council said today that it became aware of the financial difficulties at Filmbase on Monday 5 March.

“We sought immediately a detailed account from the company on a number of matters and gave the company until Thursday 8th March at 5pm to respond. A satisfactory response was not received,” it said in a statement.

The Arts Council appointed independent auditors to investigate the matter on Friday 9 March. Under the terms and conditions of Arts Council funding the organisation must comply with the auditors, and the auditors went on site on Monday 12 March.

“The board of Filmbase informed us the following morning (Tuesday 13th) that it intended to go into liquidation,” said the Arts Council. “On Wednesday 14th, the board informed us that the staff have been laid off and that the company had ceased trading pending liquidation.”

The Arts Council awarded Filmbase €250,000 in annual funding last year for its work offering training, information and advice to filmmakers. It’s understood that it delivered these services.

However, when the council did not receive an up-to-date set of audited accounts from Filmbase last year, it placed a stop on funding – meaning that Filmbase was not able to draw down the final 10% (€25,000) of its 2017 annual funding, or any of the €125,000 that was offered for funding in 2018 (this funding has now been withdrawn).

The council will also be seeking the payment of money owed to two artists who were awarded up to €80,000 each under the Reel Art Scheme, which is managed by Filmbase. The company was given €170,000 for this scheme (which was to be split between two artists who were awarded up to €80,000 to make a documentary film).

Speaking about the news, Irish Film Board Chief Executive James Hickey said:

Since 1986, Filmbase has been a crucial cornerstone of Irish film and has played an important part in Ireland’s cultural landscape. Filmbase has always been a place of development and nurturing for Irish filmmaking talent, and has provided a launch-pad for the careers of many creatives now working in the sector. We are incredibly sad to learn of today’s news.

He added: “I would like to sincerely thank Alan [Fitzpatrick] and the team at Filmbase for their unfaltering dedication to filmmaking over the years, and for leaving behind a rich legacy of creative empowerment and support for Irish film.”

Read: Trinity students to stop occupying building – but will keep protesting until resit exam fees are scrapped>

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Aoife Barry

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