Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by South East Museum, Library and Archive Council (SEMLAC)


  The South East Museum, Library and Archive Council (SEMLAC) is the regional development agency for museum, library and archive activity in the South East. We work to improve the quality of museum, library and archive provision in the South East in order to maximise the sectors' contribution to the region's distinctive cultural, social, educational and economic life and identity. We work in partnership with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and its other Regional Agencies.


  Our interest concerns the potential of audiovisual archives to contribute to the success of the creative industries in our region.

  Since our establishment in 2002, we have been working to define the existing audiovisual collections in the South East and to support their strategic development. This resulted in the publication in 2004 of the South East Audiovisual Mapping and Strategy report (available at Since that time, we have made significant strides in developing a partnership with Screen South (the South East arm of the UK Film Council) and SEEDA our regional development agency to help support the commercial development of our regional audiovisual archives. We are progressing a series of commercial case studies between commercial providers and collections in the South East including a partnership between BBC Motion Gallery and the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

  As part of our efforts to showcase the value of these collections to the creative industries, with our partners we published a toolkit at the South East Media Network's Digital Convergence conference in December. The toolkit provides advice and guideline to help those with audiovisual collections in the South East generate income by meeting the needs of potential commercial partners. It us available at


  We know that content creators are very interested in repurposing material held in audiovisual archives to create new digital products for various platforms. At present the potential for repurposing is limited by the fact that the vast majority of existing audiovisual material is not ready to be exploited by the market. By not ready, we mean that the collections are not well enough catalogued and digitised and that more often than not the rights to exploit the content is not owned by the holder of the collection. The key issue is where investment should come from to overcome these limiting factors. From our commercial study assessments, we believe that new content creators will have some role to play in this investment process but without some element of public sector incentive there will not be sufficient critical mass available for new content creators to invest.

  This issue of public sector investment has been raised by us and other bodies in relation to the Committee's Heritage Inquiry. We hope that the Committee will be able to take a joined-up approach by referencing this issue in relation to this creative industries inquiry.


  We support the progress made so far by the BBC Creative Archive Licence Group. The composition of the group is understandably dominated by large audiovisual content providers, and we would urge the Committee to encourage the group to take a wider view of the contribution which content held in all kinds of museums, libraries and archives through the representation of MLA on the forthcoming Consultative Panel. The proposals developed by the group need to be able to accommodate the needs of smaller content providers to allow them to take advantage of the opportunities available through application of the Licence.

  The Committee will be aware that the British Film Institute (BFI) has a particular policy and pastoral care role for the regional audiovisual archives, which the UK Film Council provides small financial support for through its regional Screen Agencies. The BFI should be specifically charged with representing the interests of the regional audiovisual archives on the Group and its Consultative Panel.

  The rights issues are complex and not easily resolvable without significant resources, which are often not available to the 116 organisations holding extant audiovisual collections in the South East. We would urge the Committee to encourage the Licence Group to create a blueprint for resolving rights issues which is workable where the rights of the creators are not known and which is useful for smaller organisations. To do this effectively the Group will need to look at the structures to make this happen. We hope that the Committee will be able to recommend that the Group take account of these issues in setting the terms of reference for the Consultative Group.

28 February 2006

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