New light is cast on the reasons for the sudden closure of Film Base – though the matter is unlikely to rest here, given the financial pressures under which the organisation has been operating, and the fact that auditors from the Arts Council were unhappy with the responses received to questions asked of Filmbase
The Arts Council of Ireland has issued a statement on the closure of Filmbase, announced earlier today.
“The Arts Council became aware of the financial difficulties at Filmbase last Monday, 5th March,” the statement says. "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.
"We appointed independent auditors to investigate the matter on Friday 9th March. Under the terms and conditions of Arts Council funding, the organisation must comply with the auditors. Our auditors went on site on Monday 12th March.
"The board of Filmbase informed us the following morning (Tuesday 13th) that it intended to go into liquidation. On Wednesday 14th, the board informed us that the staff have been laid off and that the company had ceased trading pending liquidation.”
Hot Press understands that Filmbase was awarded €250,000 in annual funding last year (2017), for its work as a resource organisation, offering training, information and advice, mostly to emerging film makers. The organisation, which has been operating for more than 30 years, delivered these services.
A briefing note to editors stated that the Arts Council operates a rigorous system of checks and balances around its funding. "When we did not receive an up-to-date set of audited accounts from Filmbase last year, the Arts Council placed a stop on funding for the organisation,” the note explains. "This means that Filmbase was not able to draw down the final 10 percent, or €25,000, of its 2017 annual funding, and has not been able to draw down any of the €125,000 that it was offered in funding for 2018. That offer has now been withdrawn.
"In addition, the company received €170,000 for the 2017 Reel Art scheme. Under this scheme, two artists are each awarded up to €80,000 to make a documentary film. Two artists were successful in December.
"We are particularly concerned,” the note states, "that money owed to two artists awarded under the our Reel Art Scheme managed by Filmbase has not been paid.
"The Arts Council will vigorously seek the payment of the money owed to the artists as part of the liquidation process."