Monday, 22 November 2010

Hard times at MMU

Derek Smith has almost completed the filming for the documentary on Dave Pearson's work. The Trust hope that this film will help us to promote Dave's work more widely and support our aim to enhance the reputation of a unique and special man and artist. Derek has yet to interview Margaret Mytton and myself, but the rest of the filming is just about in place. 

One final piece of footage Derek wanted to include in the film is a short section inside Manchester Metropolitan University, where Dave taught for 38 years throughout it's various guises as Manchester School of Art and Design, Manchester Polytechnic, and now MMU. However permission to undertake this has turned into a long, legalistic process. First a facility fee had to be negotiated in order to gain access to the premises (£175 was finally agreed on);  then various other permissions were required. After a lot of negotiation by Derek, and with help from Margaret, herself a  Senior Lecturer at MMU, things finally seemed to be resolved. 

But when a final contract was issued to Derek it included a clause  'In addition the Licensee will pay to the Licensor 5% of the profits, only in the event the profits exceed £20,000' Despite the fact that we would be very, very surprised if the film made a profit of any kind, let alone in excess of £20K, this does seem a rather mercenary position for the University to take, especially when we're talking of a matter of a few minutes of footage in a 60 minute film created for a not-for-profit organisation. Derek says 'I must confess to never having seen this in all the years I have been producing films professionally since 1979'.

Margaret Mytton has written to the Conference and Events Co-ordinator at MMU pleading for a sensible and balanced response to the Trusts concerns. Among other things, she points out:

"As someone who worked closely alongside Dave Pearson for many years, I appreciate the tremendous commitment he had to the students, the courses he taught on, and to MMU as an institution. This was demonstrated not just by the high quality of his teaching which was legendary, but by the many, many evenings on which, other than students, we would be the only persons in Grosvenor. It seems appropriate that this commitment and 38 years of his life is represented visually in a film about his life and work, without penalty."

She goes on to say.... 

"I welcome the opportunity for MMU to share in any reflected glory that may ensue as we continue to raise Dave's profile. As we are wishing to portray MMU in the best possible light, this is free advertising for the Manchester School of Art. In fact because of the fee Derek has agreed to pay, MMU are already actually being paid to get free advertising!"

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