A Word From EDN's New Interim Director on the Situation of EDN
It is my pleasure to reach out to you today to introduce myself as the new interim director of EDN. I consider it my duty to inform you about some of the challenges and changes that EDN has gone through over the past months. I would also like to address a number of concerns that some EDN members have expressed.
As you probably know, our association has been going through a very difficult time. At the end of 2018, EDN was in such a perilous financial state that the association was basically bankrupt and EDN was about to be declared insolvent and disappear. This situation was presented to our members during our 2018 General Assembly at IDFA. At that time EDN’s former director & Board were desperately searching for a guarantor to secure EDN’s interim funding so that operations could continue. The former Board was subsequently also searching for new Board members since the previous Board members did not wish to continue due to this situation.
Fortunately for EDN, Adversa Media - co-owned by Dutch media entrepreneur Jan Riemens - and the Wickers foundation, represented by Jane Ray, were willing to help. With this help EDN was, in principle, able to continue. As all sitting Board members were wanting to leave, Jan Riemens accepted an invitation to take on the chair position together with myself, Jane Ray and sole remaining board member, Jan Röfekamp. All this has been done in order to ensure the continuity of EDN's activities and its existence as an association into 2019. Since then we are pleased to say we have secured further EU funding only on the basis of financial guarantees provided by Jan Riemens’ company Adversa Media.
However, it is clear that there has been some misrepresentation of these events by messages that were made public by some members who were not fully informed. It should also be noted that there were no prior attempts to first reach out and seek clarification with the new board personally. Despite these circumstances, I am more than happy to have now provided you with some detail on the current situation of EDN and how the transition has been handled so far.
I’d also like to add that since I was suddenly asked to step in as interim Director from April 15th, it was challenging to simultaneously manage all the urgent financial, operational and administrative issues, while at the same time also providing complete and transparent communication to you, our members.
Having now worked closely with the previous EDN team and board of directors, it’s clear that much of the crisis that EDN now faces has been due to a lack of proper and transparent financial management over the previous few years. In the first weeks in office, the new Board encountered numerous examples of financial, organisational and legal ‘inconsistencies’. And this led to the sudden and immediate leaving of the previous director.
Therefore, I have decided that the best course of action is to appoint an independent auditor to fully investigate EDN’s administration, assets and finances to understand what has caused EDN’s recent financial crisis. This audit will also give our members and EDN’s future board both transparency and insight into the causes of the problems and what is needed to restructure EDN in such a way that our association can become solid and financially healthy for years to come. We plan to publish the results of this audit before the General Assembly at IDFA.
I’d like to assure you that all the current Board members have been working hard to secure EDN’s future. So far, we were able to guarantee the 2018 EU funding that was at serious risk due to a lack of proper financial reporting. The Board has also secured the first instalment of the 2019 funding of EDN’s activities. It should be noted that despite all this going on, the current EDN staff worked hard on continuing all scheduled workshops and events. Now with some stability and security back, we can finally catch our breath and work on restructuring our organisation. As you can imagine, this is very necessary and long overdue. It should also be mentioned that none of the current Board members are being paid for their services.
During the next General Assembly, planned for IDFA in Amsterdam this year, EDN members will be invited to voice their opinion and cast their vote for everyone that has applied and is being put forward by the Board as new member, as set out in the latest version of the By-laws.
Myself and Jan Röfekamp will, on June 24th in La Rochelle, be at Sunny Side at the EDN Umbrella Stand, and of course are available at any time to talk. Our members will then have the opportunity to ask questions, share their considerations, and put forward their candidates for the Board.
In the meantime, thanks entirely due to the financial guarantees provided by Adversa Media & The Whickers Foundation, EDN can continue its core activities, including Moving Docs and the EDN Pitching Workshops "Southern Europe" (Lisbon Docs, Docs in Thessaloniki) and, as interim Director, I am doing my best to ensure that the Association gets back to full strength during 2019.
The Board and I would like to thank you all for your understanding and trust during EDN’s difficult time recently and we kindly ask you for a little more patience and understanding.
I would like to thank you for your concern for our organisation and I’d like to assure you that the Board is undertaking the greatest efforts to lead EDN into a bright future. Hereby I also want to send out an open invitation to all concerned members to get in touch with me directly for any further clarification or simply in order to get to know me and the board better. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an addendum I would like to offer specific answers to some questions raised by members in an open letter that has recently been published (see further below).
Looking forward to meeting you at Sunny Side of the Doc!
EDN Interim Director
ADDENDUM: ANSWERS TO CONCERNS RAISED BY MEMBERS ON FACEBOOK REFERRING TO EDN BY-LAWS
In § 6 of the EDN By Laws it is stated ‘The General Assembly annually elects the Board from candidates suggested by the sitting Board of the Association’. The current board has not been elected by the members.
The last G.A. was held during IDFA 2018 (see interim director’s letter above). Indeed, the next annual election is therefore the General Assembly during IDFA 2019. § 7 of the EDN By Laws states that, “If a member of the Board during a term decides to step down, the remaining members of the Board may continue with a minimum of three members to act as a transitional Board until the next General Assembly. The remaining board may also choose to appoint a new member, who shall then be elected until the next General Assembly.”
Why are the offices moved and has the staff been made redundant?
The funding at the Danish Film Institute ended in 2018 in the middle of EDN’s financial crisis and this funding was covering the high cost for the Danish offices. The decision to cancel the rental contract with the Danish Film Institute was made by the previous Director in January 2019. With the DFI funding ending, and with the guarantor Adversa Media offering office space, the decision was made to open an office in Amsterdam. The option of retaining some office space for a couple of staff members in Copenhagen was considered but since none of the staff there expressed the wish to remain working for EDN during this transition, the decision was made to keep an administrational presence in the short-term but to end all content related operations.
The termination of the old staff contracts was a decision made by the previous director at the end of January 2019. Since then, I have invited all EDN staff members to continue working under a new contract and this invitation remains open. Some of the EDN staff members will now continue working with EDN under new contracts, and agreements already have been made.
Above concerns will be addressed in conversations to be held at Sunny Side of the Doc and the board will be present to answer all your questions related to above.