When is a good salary not good enough?
£55,000 a year to most people, after all, is a heck of a yearly wage. But it seems to be one of the reasons why, critics say, Scotland's national cultural funding body, Creative Scotland, cannot find a suitable candidate to be their director of film and media.
It is a key job for the quango: film is one of Creative Scotland's main responsibilities and all eyes are on what the body can do to boost the screen industries, following months of agitation and campaigning by leading producers to boost both funding and infrastructure. The screen industry in Scotland, comparatively undernourished as it is, contributes more than £118 million to the economy and employs more than 2500 people. The recent review of film urged the doubling of film production in Scotland, and seemed to back the building of a film studio.
Interestingly, Creative Scotland did not spend all of its National Lottery money for Capital Projects last week: I wonder if the money not spent (around £5m) is going to be used to boost film production funds.
The director of film's responsibilities are broad and heavy: his or her specialisms should include "film and distribution; cross platform broadcasting; arts digital content and social media", according to the official job description. The ideal candidate should have both "leadership experience in the film and media sector" as well as "a deep understanding of the film and media sector in Scotland, together with the wider political and policy environment".
Janet Archer, who runs Creative Scotland, says in her welcome to the job application "we need someone who can work effectively with Government, with our staff and, importantly, with the filmmakers and producers that we are here to support".
The post was advertised last year and, after a failure to find the right candidate, was advertised again this week. The job specifications are the same and the salary is the same. The £55,000 a year is the same figure that all the directors at the body receive. It is fair to question what Creative Scotland thinks will be different this time around.
Those who work in the film world, at a level to satisfy the criteria of the demanding job on offer, will not - film world people repeatedly tell me - be attracted by the salary alone. One well informed figure in the UK movie world told me the kind of person Creative Scotland is looking for is a production executive, who is quite likely to be working for double that amount in the public sphere, or be earning much more than that in the private sector. Senior executives at the British Film Institute in London (BFI) earn more than £100,000. The counter to this call for a higher salary for the movie chief is this: why should the director of film at Creative Scotland earn more than the director of arts? Or director of funding? These are clearly key roles too.
A new film strategy is to be published in June. There might be more funds to go with that once Creative Scotland re-thinks its funding models, and a new studio plan looks likely: Scottish Enterprise certainly seem to be in favour. So who will want to grasp this opportunity?
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