EXCLUSIVE: BAFTA is set to merge its New York and Los Angeles branches to become BAFTA North America, we can reveal.
The organization has been planning the change for some time and recently had a vote among members regarding the move, which will take effect next year.
The BAFTA North America board won’t be set until 2021, but current BAFTA LA CEO Matthew Wiseman will serve as Executive Director.
The change means there will be one BAFTA entity in the U.S., and the aim is for that division to have a closer relationship with BAFTA in the UK in order to create a more unified, global strategy for the organization. We are told there won’t be any staff cuts as a result of the process.
BAFTA’s membership stands at about 7,500 professionals worldwide. There are roughly 1,500 full members based in the U.S.
Krish Majumdar, Chair of BAFTA, explained to us: “We were really pleased that members responded so positively re: the opportunity to vote and help create BAFTA North America as an entity. This recent vote is the latest step in our long talked about and worked for ambition to bring BAFTA closer together as one global organisation. It’s a hugely important step as we continue to evolve as one global BAFTA which will allow us to be more than the sum of our parts, laying the path forward for closer collaboration and expansion of our great programme of activities in the US delivered via our teams in NY and LA. Though we are still a little ways away from finishing the legal steps and ratifications necessary to bring this into effect, we hope to be able to make an official announcement with more developments in 2021.”
BAFTA LA CEO Wiseman added: “Bringing together the local wisdom and talent from the LA and New York BAFTA Membership has already led to the expansion of programs like our US Scholarships and Student Film Awards, as well as the launch of Breakthrough US this year. Collaboration and a spirit of cultural exchange is at the heart of so many BAFTA programs, so bringing together the expertise of the BAFTA offices, and joining together to offer perspectives from North America when establishing our global visions and objectives, is an exciting proposition.”
The org announced in September an overhaul of its awards system, which included adding 1,000 new members and limiting the amount studios can spend campaigning for nominations, in a bid to recognize more diverse talent.
The changes came after a seven-month review process, triggered by criticism over the lack of diversity in its film awards.
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