Founded in 1974, the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP) is a non-profit, community organization dedicated to supporting the production and presentation of independent film and moving-image based work in a collaborative, learning environment. AFCOOP is located in Kjipuktuk in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. AFCOOP is committed to creating a welcoming space and affordable activities and opportunities for all people, and to breaking down barriers to access for under-represented and equity-seeking groups.
AFCOOP’s mission is to support the production, promotion and presentation of original, high-quality independent films and media art. Individual artists are at the heart of every program that AFCOOP designs and every piece of equipment that we invest in. Our programs and policies are designed to ensure that filmmakers retain full creative control and ownership of their work.
- Accessibility. Creating a welcoming space and affordable activities and opportunities.
- Diversity. Commitment to increasing representation of underserved groups.
- Excellence. Dedication to presenting and promoting original and challenging artwork.
- Independence. Support for the creation of independent artwork.
- Transparency. Commitment to making our policies open to our members and the public.
- Relevance. Connection to our community through our co-op structure.
AREA OF SERVICE
While AFCOOP’s name specifies the Atlantic region, the majority of our programming and activities take place in Nova Scotia and in particular, the city of Halifax. Halifax is an exciting place to be involved in the arts, and the world of film and media arts is no exception. There is a strong sense of community and place here that bonds artists together, both out of necessity and in celebration. The geographical remoteness from major city centres and the relative scarcity of resources fosters a strong culture of volunteerism and artistic generosity, particularly in the film and media arts community. AFCOOP is a product of this community and is proud to have been supporting the legacy of filmmaking in Nova Scotia since 1974.
HISTORY: In 1973 a group of filmmakers gathered at the Seahorse Tavern, which was on Argyle street at that time, for a drink. In that dark underground bar with the long benches like something out of a ship’s galley, the idea for AFCOOP began. The 70ties was a heady time for co-ops in general and AFCOOP’s founders were inspired by the co-op scene in New York as described by photographer Robert Frank who was often in Halifax at the time. Thanks to the work of that initial group of filmmakers, and funding from the Canada Council for the Arts, AFCOOP was founded a year later in June of 1974. Some of AFCOOP’s original members were Chuck Lapp, Don Duchene, Bill MacGillivray, Chuck Clark, Art MacKay, Lionel Simmons and Ramona MacDonald.
AFCOOP is proud to be one of the oldest English language film co-ops in Canada. AFCOOP’s resources predate the majority of the current infrastructure for filmmaking including the film programs of NSCC and NSCAD, the major film festivals and the film and television industry. AFCOOP has been an important building block in the independent film community and we have served as an example for the creation of other co-ops and artist-run-centres in the region. AFCOOP is the bedrock that this film community was built on and in times of turmoil, filmmakers return to AFCOOP for stability and constancy.
“The Co-op constantly reinvented itself and carried on, much to the amazement of the older alumni. AFCOOP’s independence, energy and ability to give access to new creative artists is what makes it constantly relevant.”
— Chuck Clark, Founding Member
- Jim MacSwain and Bonnie Baker established the Canadian Filmmakers’ Distribution Atlantic. This later became Atlantic Independent Media.
- Gordon Parsons started independent film screenings as an AFCOOP activity, and eventually formed Wormwood’s Dog and Monkey Cinema-the first independently owned cinema in Atlantic Canada (sadly, it closed down in 1998). AFCOOP continues to help show repertory cinema and hold regular film screenings of limited release and independent films, including member projects, at a number of locations throughout Halifax.
- AFCOOP was a key supporter of the Atlantic Film Festival in its early days and lobbied to create the Nova Scotia Arts council.
Founded as co-operative, AFCOOP’s membership-based structure supports our continued relevance. Member-led committees are the driving force behind our programming decisions, equipment purchases and educational offerings. This input from the community acts as a safety check ensuring that our activities are grounded in the needs of our members. Over the past four decades of innovation and development in the film and media arts sector, AFCOOP’s participatory co-op structure has allowed us to remain relevant and vital by adapting to the changing needs of our community.
GOVERNANCE AND ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE:
As a Cooperative, AFCOOP is governed by its members. Every member has the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors or Committees, and full members are entitled to voting privileges at AFCOOP’s quarterly meetings.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is held once a year and is the supreme governing body of the organization. The AGM is responsible for electing a Board of Directors (no less than seven and no more than ten) responsible for the governance of AFCOOP in between Annual General Meetings. AFCOOP’s bylaws stipulate that the majority of the Board must be AFCOOP Full or Lifetime Members, in order to ensure that the co-op is governed by folks who are deeply invested in the community.
The Board meets monthly to review AFCOOP’s activities and financial position. AFCOOP’s board is a governance board, providing high-level vision, oversight and policy input. Staff are empowered to make decisions about daily activities, projects and programming. Board meeting minutes are recorded and are available to the membership upon request.