The Invisible Institution? Reconstructing the History of BAFTA and the 1958 Merger of the British Film Academy with the Guild of Television Producers and Directors

Emma Pett, Helen Warner

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Abstract

As a cultural institution of national and global significance, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is notably absent from existing scholarship on the media industries. More importantly, BAFTA's role as an independent arts charity set up by the industry to support and develop new talent is often overlooked. Instead, references to BAFTA made by media and film scholars most frequently take the form of footnotes or digressions that detail particular awards or nominations. Drawing on a range of archival sources, including BAFTA's own records, we address this significant omission within existing scholarship on the British cultural and creative industries. In particular, we examine the period 1947-68, focusing on the 1958 merger of the British Film Academy with the Guild of Television Producers and Directors to form a new institution, known as the Society of Film and Television Arts (SFTA, later renamed BAFTA). This was achieved despite the well-documented tensions existing between the two industries throughout the period, which we identify and analyse within this historical context. We argue that a crucial factor driving the 1958 merger was the desire to develop quality training schemes across both industries. This, in turn, was partly enabled by an egalitarian turn in post-war British society towards the development of greater social equality and mobility. In reconstructing these events, we therefore interrogate and reassess the role played by this key national institution on the development of the creative and cultural industries, offering an expansion and revision of scholarship on media histories of post-war Britain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-472
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of British Film and Television
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • Association of Cinematograph
  • British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)
  • British Film Academy (BFA)
  • Guild of Television Producers and Directors
  • Society of Film and Television Arts (SFTA)
  • Television and Allied Technicians (ACTT)
  • Training schemes

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