IFTA launches Five-Year Plan (2020 – 2024)

The Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA),  officially unveils its Five-Year Strategic Development Plan 2020-2024. 

At an official Academy Member’s launch event last night, hosted by the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, actor and board member Liam Cunningham along with Academy Chief Executive Áine Moriarty,  officially unveiled IFTA’s Five-year Strategic Development Plan 2020-2024

Among the attendees were

Amongst the members attending were Screen Ireland CEO Desiree Finnegan, Screen Ireland Chairperson Annie Doona; Former Screen Ireland CEO James Hickey, Screen Skills Ireland’s Manager, Gareth Lee & Neil Murphy, Elaine Geraghty from Screen Producers Ireland (SPI), Kathleen Gavin from Government’s Department of Education and Skills and IFTA Head of Film & Television Gar O’Brien.

IFTA Board Members such as film finance expert John Gleeson (Saffrey Champness), Múirne Laffan (Laffan labs), Nick Linnane (NLCO), Joe Ryan (Management Consultant) were also on hand alongside IFTA’s Committee Members including Former TG4 Commissioning  Director Mícheál Ó Meallaigh, Broadcaster Brendan Courtney and Paul Young CEO of the multiple Oscar-Nominated Cartoon Saloon, who serves on IFTA’s Film Committee and is also the chair of IFTA’s Animation Chapter.

Members attending, represented a broad spectrum of Irish filmmakers including; Irish Actors Stephen Rea, Deirdre O’Kane, Antonia Campbell Hughes, Moe Dunford, Jordanne Jones, Seán T Ó Meallaigh, Amy-Joyce Hastings; filmmakers Jim Sheridan, James Flynn, Macdara Kelleher, Lee Cronin, Mark O’Connor, Edwina Forkin, Nick Kelly, Seamus Deasy; Stefanie Preissner, Paul Donovan, Richie Bolger, Seán Murray, Cormac Fox, Dominic Wright, Billy McGrath, Brian O’Malley, Fiona Ashe, Caroline Grace Cassidy among others.

Other Members included Miriam O’Callaghan RTÉ, Elaine Crowley Virgin Media,  Andrew Byrne Virgin media, Roger Childs, Amanda Brunker were also in the room along with Sheamus Smith, Eibh Collins, Shimmy Marcus of Bow Street Acting Academy and Jean Rice from IADT Film College.  Distributors such as Audrey Sheils, Warner Bros., Patrick O’Neill, Wildcard Distribution, Glenn Hogarty, Limelight PR and Paul Ward from Omniplex.

The 5 Year Strategic development Plan – what it says

The Plan clearly outlines IFTA’s core vision, ambition and development plan for the Academy over the next five years; as an all-Ireland not for profit organisation and central Hub for the Irish filmmaking community; delivering its mission to encourage, reward and inspire professional excellence through a diverse year-round Programme of Learning events; mentoring, masterclasses, tributes, discussions, as well as delivering the annual Irish Academy awards.

IFTA was founded in 2003, and over the past 16 years has already delivered over c 450 learning events, 18 awards ceremonies, paid tribute and honoured 23 Irish industry Veterans with the Lifetime Achievement Awards, and has presented 694 Irish Academy Award statuettes to industry professionals, including Rising Star awards throughout the years to young talents such as Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson, Sarah Greene,  John Michael McDonagh, Jamie Dornan among others.

In 2018 the Irish Government announced its intention to grow the Irish film industry and turn Ireland into a Centre of Excellence; doubling employment to 24,000 jobs and investing in the creative and cultural infrastructures that will in turn generate 1.4billion for the Irish economy.

In 2019, The Irish Academy welcomed this and knew the time was also right to reflect and take stock of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for the Academy in helping to grow the industry and to undertake a new strategic plan.  This 5-year strategic development plan, as outlined to Government, delivers an important blueprint for the Academy’s next five years. It follows extensive consultation with key representatives and stakeholders within the film, television and animation production sector.


The 5-Year Plan attached includes 8 key objectives across the Academy’s Four Pillars (1)The Members; 2)Learning Programme of events; 3)Awards events; and 4) the John Ford Ireland – Film Symposium & the Academy Archive.

First among these objectives is the challenge of ensuring financial stability for the Academy.  While the IFTA events and award ceremonies attract commercial sponsorship and partnership, it is more challenging for IFTA to source commercial funding for the Academy’s overhead/annual costs (infrastructure, staffing, office rental, equipment and technology etc.).  The Academy also relies on Membership fees to help run the 12-month programme of learning events for its members.

Core Funding support is required strategically from Government via the Department of Culture, Heritage & The Gaeltacht and Department of Communications (from state agencies, public- service broadcasters, Government funding agencies etc.). 

This is in keeping with best practice across Europe where European Film Academies are supported by their respective governments and state agencies, across their entire range of Academy activities, across their infrastructure and learning programmes and their Award ceremonies. 

The Academy will expand its 12-month Programme of Learning events to include Mentorship programmes, Talent hub sessions, 3rd level partnerships,  and more, to deliver a robust training and development programme for its  members and the wider industry. 

In line with Government’s expected growth for the industry over the coming five years IFTA plans to open its membership to increase from 1,240 Members to 3,000+ industry professionals. This will be achieved through the introduction of a tiered membership system and expansion of student membership and across sectors such as animation & gaming; and will ensure that professionals working across the full spectrum of the industry (North & South) are welcomed into the Academy. 

With the right funding support in place, the Academy will prioritise the delivery of two high-calibre Award Ceremonies annually, representing Ireland North and South, and recognising excellence in Irish achievement, in front of and behind the camera.  These awards will be delivered in line with best international practice. The Academy wishes to undertake Awards this year in 2020 with plans being put in place for a Ceremony end of May and details to be announced separately.

Other priorities include growing the John Ford Ireland Symposium into a truly global event; increasing public engagement, increasing the Academy and the Irish Industry’s presence on the international stage, and a long-term priority of securing a building for the Academy for members and the wider industry to come together. 

The Five-Year Plan is now available to view on the IFTA website 


Speaking at the Launch, IFTA Chief Executive Áine Moriarty  said:

“As Ireland’s screen industry embarks on an ambitious new phase of growth, it is more vital than ever that professionals from all industry craft and disciplines (North & South) have a neutral, all-inclusive Hub at the heart of the industry and community; a space that can drive their creative and professional development and collaboration, that champions them on a national and international stage, and that allows for their creative excellence to be recognised and rewarded by their peers  – The Academy is that space”.

“We look forward to continuing this important work for our members and to working with Government and industry stakeholders to help make Ireland a Global Centre of Excellence.” 

Celebrated Actor Liam Cunningham said: 

“This next phase of growth for the Irish industry is absolutely critical, as we have such an opportunity now to take this to the next level.  It’s not just film and television, but also gaming, animation and so much more. The Academy is right at the heart of all of this, supporting us all the way.”

Notes to the Editor:

Contributions from members and support for the Academy’s Five Year Strategic Development Plan include: 

Jim Sheridan, Director / Writer; Oscar Nominee

“I am a strong supporter of the Irish Film & Television Academy (IFTA) and its new 5-year Development Plan. Since the first IFTAs took place back in 2003, the Academy has been a wonderful support to the Irish film industry and has worked tirelessly to promote Ireland and Irish films at home and abroad. It is extremely important that the Academy can continue with its great work in selling the industry abroad, attracting foreign productions, fostering talent and running events, masterclasses and the very prestigious annual awards.”

Michèle Burke, Make-Up Artist; Two-Time Oscar Winner

I am a member of the American Academy as well as the Irish Academy (IFTA). I certainly feel that I am part of the great energy that fuels creative minds. 

IFTA is a vital part of the Irish film industry. It’s a place to meet like-minded people, to show our films and share ideas. As a resource it’s simply invaluable. It is THE Hub and heartbeat of our industry. Through IFTA we are privy to updates and shared knowledge on new films, screenings, masterclasses, workshops and discussions.

Culturally, IFTA can reach out to the entire globe of filmmakers and countries to promote Irish films and Irish screen content. It allows us to share our resources and network with great crews. Via IFTA we can highlight to the rest of the world that we have amazing crew and studio resources in  Ireland.

There are enduring dividends to transporting our culture around the world via film. Honouring the talents of our behind-the-scene craftsmen only raises the bar of excellence higher for those that will follow. 

Paul Young: CEO of Cartoon Saloon, Oscar Nominee; Member of The IFTA Film Committee& Chair of the IFTA Animation Chapter

As part of IFTA’s Film Committee and also as Chair of IFTA’s Animation Chapter, I am excited to be able to work with the Academy to create a programme of screening and Teaching events to encourage more engagement from the wider animation community in Ireland. In 2015, Song of the Sea, won the IFTA for Best Feature film, the first time an animated film had achieved this. It obviously helped Cartoon Saloon’s success in funding new films, but more importantly for us and for other Animators in Ireland, this recognition was much appreciated, as it helped to reinforce the fact  that animation is a medium to be celebrated alongside all forms of feature film storytelling produced in Ireland.

So I see working with the Academy as a wonderful opportunity to pull in talent from both the animation and live action community in Ireland for educational cross- medium conversations on the Art of Visual Storytelling – what do we do differently? What do we do the same? And how might one medium influence the other to help Irish filmmakers continue to make world- class film and television for a Global audience.

Terry George, Director; Oscar Winner

Ireland, North and South has a world class film and television industry, and a world class association of directors, writers, and representatives of all the industry crafts in IFTA. In fifteen short years IFTA has established itself as a worthy and equal partner with BAFTA and AMPAS. I’m honoured to be a founding member and am proud of the work it has done  in promoting the industry through its education programs, its awards and its promotion work. We are a nation renowned for our story-telling, a commodity that in the new IT world becomes more and more valuable and marketable. We need IFTA to fly our flag. Please join me in supporting them.

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, Actor

Living in the UK for the past 18 years IFTA was been a massive support to me as an artist living abroad. It has ensured I am connected to the industry at home while also helping showcase our work on the world stage. The film and television industry in Ireland is going from strength and strength and it is important we have an academy to represent us internationally. I am a proud member of IFTA and I am excited for its future.

Joan Bergin, Costume Designer; Primetime Emmy Winner

Every year IFTA ploughs a staggering amount of work into the Irish Film & Television Awards. The night in the year when we who work in this industry are acknowledged and rewarded among our peers.  Long may IFTA continue in such solid and worthwhile ways in their excellent promotion of Irish Film. 

Seamus McGarvey, Cinematographer; 2-time Oscar Nominee

IFTA plays a vital role in Ireland’s culture by propagating Irish cinema and Irish filmmakers. The international reach of IFTA is so important in the development of the art form in Ireland and abroad. 

Pierce Brosnan, Actor

I am honoured to be part of the Irish Film & Television Academy, especially to be among the names of so many I greatly admire in the world of film and story-telling. I know that this will lead to the inspiration of future artistic generations to go forth within their time and place in history, fearless with desire.