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The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Lucy Frazer has announced the appointment of Ulster University’s Professor Declan Keeney as a new member of the BFI’s Board of Governors.

Declan is an expert advisor on the screen industry’s future workforce needs and in emerging screen technologies trends and will become the BFI’s Northern Ireland Governor. He has been appointed for a term of four years starting 27 June 2023 until June 2027.

Tim Richards, BFI Chair said:

I am delighted that the Secretary of State has appointed Declan Keeney to the BFI Board.  He brings extensive experience in skills and workforce development in converging screen technologies at an important time for the organisation as we take forward our new strategy for the BFI and work to support the future of the industry.  In joining our new Governors for Scotland and Wales appointed last year and our existing governors, their combined knowledge and expertise will be invaluable to the BFI and the industry UK-wide.”

Professor Declan Keeney, Director of Ulster Screen Academy and Professor of Screen Technologies and Innovation at Ulster University, added:

I am honoured to join the board of the British Film Institute as the Northern Ireland Governor. The BFI are an internationally acclaimed organisation boasting a world-class board comprised of leaders across film, television, games, creative technology, and business. I am delighted to support the work BFI do right here in Northern Ireland, both within the industry and in education. I am proud to represent our vibrant screen industries in Northern Ireland as someone who has worked for many years in this incredible industry and in screen education. It is also an opportunity to champion our unique workforce needs and showcase the immense potential offered by our emerging screen technologies sector in Northern Ireland. I look forward to working with CEO Ben Roberts and with colleagues at the BFI to not only support the current generation of story tellers but also to seek out the next generation of creatives for this fast-growing industry.

Professor Declan Keeney PhD, FRSA is a Professor (Chair) of Screen Technologies and Innovation at Ulster University and Director of the Ulster Screen Academy. He has also recently co-founded Studio Ulster, in Northern Ireland, a new £75m large scale commercial virtual production and real-time visual effects studio in partnership with Belfast Harbour Studios, Northern Ireland Screen and Ulster University.  Studio Ulster is one of four new studios across the UK specialising in the future of virtual production and is expected to support a million more jobs for the industry by 2030, driving economic and creative opportunity and growth for Northern Ireland’s screen sector.

Declan is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and a member of the British Council’s Arts and Creative Economy Advisory Group. His current research portfolio in support of the screen industries represents £91.5m worth of live grant-based research and development investments. Declan is an AHRC/DCMS Policy Fellow in the Future Observatory at the Design Museum in London exploring net zero and carbon reduction using emerging technologies for film production. He leads the CoSTAR Network Lab in Northern Ireland, a £17m investment in a world-class research lab and part of the largest research network for Virtual Production in Europe. Declan is a Co-investigator at Future Screens Northern Ireland and a Co-investigator on an EPSRC Network+ project entitled ‘Virtual Production in a Digital Economy’. He has over 25 years of film and television production experience, including 13 years at the BBC. Declan is passionate about open innovation and democratising access to the technologies and skills needed to make incredible digital content happen.

Declan Keeney’s appointment follows the appointment last year of new Governors to the BFI Board representing Scotland and Wales: Anwen Griffiths, a Partner at Lee & Thompson LLP, a leading law firm for the media, technology and creative industries; and Dr. Romana Ramzan, a Producer at the BAFTA award-winning No Code Studio in Glasgow, Scotland.

Professor Declan Keeney, Professor of Screen Technologies and Innovation at Ulster University currently features in the University’s latest #WeAreUU TV ad campaign which tells the rich and diverse story of Ulster University, its people, places, partnerships as we unlock our collective potential and deliver sustainable futures for all. View the campaign videos here: In Action - People, Place and Partnership (