From the Academy Archive, an extraordinary record of the historic first meeting of the British Film Academy, held 19 November 1947.
The historic first meeting of the British Film Academy’s Council of Management was held at 8.30pm on 19 November 1947, at Brown’s Hotel, London.
The Academy had been inaugurated just seven months earlier, on 16 April 1947, when the most eminent names in the British film industry gathered for a dinner, hosted by Sir Michael Balcon at the Hyde Park Hotel in London. Their fundamental aim was to establish a non-factional, non-political body "to recognise those who had contributed outstanding creative work towards the advancement of British film."
The meeting’s minutes - now held in the Academy's archive at 195 Piccadilly - record the foundational steps of the organisation and the Council’s early decisions on finance, publicity and membership.
The first items discussed by the appointed Council (The Hon. Anthony Asquith, Sir Michael Balcon, Thorold Dickinson, Sir Alexander Korda, Frank Launder, David Lean, Muir Mathieson, Ronald Neame, Sir Laurence Olivier, Michael Powell, Carol Reed and Paul Rotha) are the new appointments: David Lean as Chairman of the Council of Management, Michael Balcon as Chairman-Elect, and Roger Manwell’s confirmation as Secretary-General. The Council also decided upon the appointment of Auditors, Solicitors and Bankers for the Academy and discussed the best ways to publicise the organisation’s work.
The question of financing the Academy features prominently. The funds of the Academy are announced as £790.5.10d, after payment of October salaries and bills. The Council agrees that the entrance fee should remain at the sum of £10 and that Members’ Fees should be scaled according to income. For instance, for members with an annual income of up to £1,000, a minimum annual subscription of £2 was required. At the other end of the scale, for members with an annual income over £10,000, the minimum was £50.
As the next meeting of the Council is set (for 8.30pm on Wednesday 17 December 1947), the Council know that the work of the Academy is now well and truly underway.