THE man who has championed the North East film industry for the past decade has stepped down as chief executive of Northern Film & Media.
Tom Harvey, who was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours for his services to the creative industries, said the time was right for him to step down.
The organisation is to be run by John Tulip, previously finance and operations director of Northern Film & Media (NFM), who has been promoted to the newly- created post of managing director.
The announcement of Mr Harvey’s departure followed last week’s news that a scaled-down body had relocated to Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and signed a partnership deal with the venue.
Mr Harvey joined NFM as its first chief executive in 2002 when it was one of a network of regional screen agencies funded through the UK Film Council.
Last year the Government abolished the UK Film Council and the regional screen agencies but NFM survives as an independent organisation to promote the film industry in the North East.
Under Mr Harvey’s leadership, NFM has helped to bring more than £80m of investment into the region as funding for film, TV, digital media and music projects.
It also successfully campaigned for the North East to be represented on screen nationally when network television commissions dried up and the BBC announced it was to set up its northern base at Salford, in the North West. Mr Harvey said yesterday he had returned to London to consider his options.
“It has been a very intense 10-year job so I am going to take a few weeks out before I start thinking about what I’m going to do next.”
He said following the “future-defining” partnership deal with Baltic and confirmation of funding, he felt the time was right for him to step down as chief executive.
“The agency is now well positioned for a new funding era and will continue to deliver a range of creative initiatives to new and existing clients,” he said.
He looked back over “an extraordinary 10 years” which had also seen thousands of ideas developed and jobs created and sustained, more than £9m invested and distributed and more than 70 new companies created. He said: “The team at NFM is committed to making the agency work under a new model for new economic times. I have spent a third of my working life in the North East. It’s an incredible place to live and work, packed full of extraordinary people, companies and landscapes. I’ve enjoyed my time here immensely and will always feel close to the region.
“John has been my right-hand man for nearly a decade and he will provide strong leadership and management in the role of managing director.”
Sir Les Elton, chair of NFM, said: “Tom’s 10-year tenure at NFM has produced extraordinary results.
“From major productions secured to developing a critical mass of commercial-creative talent in the region through to securing public and industry backing for the sector here, Tom has delivered in the role of chief executive. Having put the structures in place that will future-proof the agency’s core services, I can confidently hand over the reins to John.”
Mr Tulip said the agency had been repositioned under a new funding climate.
“I’m looking forward to working with NFM’s talented team and our partners to deliver on our new agenda as a creative industry development agency,” he said.
NFM is funded by a European programme which runs until next year and has struck a funding deal with four local authorities, Newcastle, Gateshead, Northumberland and Durham.
Creative England, the new body set up by the Government to support film in the regions, has no office in the North East although Mr Harvey said he had hoped NFM could operate on its behalf.