NSI’s new CEO is loving it


Liz Hover (NSI’s digital media manager) asked me to write about my initial thoughts since taking on the CEO position at the National Screen Institute …

It’s NSI’s 25th anniversary this year and it’s been two and half months since I joined NSI – so far I’m loving it.

The team is great and the board (most of whom I’ve worked with before) are incredibly supportive and eager to help in any way they can.

I’m even enjoying the commute between Toronto and Winnipeg.

And for someone who has spent most of his professional life spending money (either investing in productions or acquiring finished programs) the chance to set up and shop for a new apartment in Winnipeg is an unforeseen treat.

NSI is a little gem of an organization that not enough people know about (need to change that) and one that is actually making a difference in the lives of the participants who take our courses.

Over 90% of last year’s participants are working in or engaged in further studies related to the film and television industries.

Seven major TV series have been developed through NSI in the last five years.

At a time when short films are seeing a growing resurgence of interest, NSI’s Drama Prize course (I have no idea why we called it that) set the creative and quality bar for such productions. Put another way, NSI is a success.

So where to go from here?

In short, we’re looking both locally and nationally. We have fabulous partners in Manitoba and we want to build on our existing relationships by doing more within the community by helping to support the training needs of local storytellers.

On a national level, we cannot go it alone. Smart, strategic partnerships will ensure that we continue to compete and attract Canada’s most talented storytellers to our programs and to our faculty of mentors.

We also want to expand the breadth of our programming offerings. We will be developing programming for other industries (gaming and mobile might be logical choices) that value storytelling as a key competency.

Just a bit about funding: anyone who works in the arts knows that funding is always a challenge and so it is for NSI. We are fortunate to have many strong and incredibly supportive funding partners.

Having said that, NSI needs to do more to raise revenues of its own. Without sacrificing our core values, we plan to develop private sector partnerships with a view to raising funds for our programs.

We’re putting a lot on our plate and we’re asking for a lot of advice and support from our funders, partners, alumni, friends and the industry as a whole as we retool ourselves to compete in the digital economy.

NSI is a little engine that can. And will…

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