FTI in funding fight

FTI, which moved from Fremantle to Perth in May because of renovation works on the Old Boys School, recently announced that Screen Australia would no longer provide funding after 2015.

Chief executive Paul Bodlovich said the core funding represented about 10 to 15 per cent of FTI’s annual income and it would continue to lobby Screen Australia for a reversal of the decision.

‘There is no doubt that we will be continuing to significantly change our organisation and it’s a real shame that at a time of great renewal for us that this funding cut will simply make things harder. From that perspective, it’s extremely disappointing,’ he said.

‘On the positive side, there’s been no indication from the State Government that ScreenWest will look to follow Screen Australia’s lead, so that is heartening.’

The news throws a spanner in the works about the future of the Old Boys School, with the City of Fremantle offering FTI first rights to return to the building once renovations are complete.

Mr Bodlovich said while they did need to contemplate FTI closing its doors as one possible effect of the funding loss, even if they continued operating a move back to Fremantle was looking less likely.

‘After 40 years in Fremantle, it was definitely time to move on,’ he said.

‘Our constituency tends to be based more around where we are now, and we’re already noticing that we simply see people that we need and want to see more often than we used to.’

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said if FTI decided not to return, the City had plans for the building.

‘If we do get official notification from FTI that they don’t intend to return, the City would look to transform the Old Boys School into a hub for film, theatre and related creative industries,’ he said.

‘There’s strong potential for the City to collaborate with universities, the private sector and not-for-profits to make sure this much-loved and important part of Fremantle’s history remains activated.’