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Film Independent, the Los Angeles-based organization responsible for the annual Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, has promoted its senior director Sean McManus and director of artist development Josh Welsh to the newly created positions of co-presidents.
The two will take over direction of the organization, which had been headed by executive director Dawn Hudson, who resigned from the post last June to become CEO of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
In their new positions, McManus and Welsh will work together to lead the organization and run its year-round programs. Their promotions were announced Tuesday by Film Independent board chairman Bill Condon.
“The Board of Directors and staff are delighted to have Sean and Josh as Co-Presidents. They are a seasoned team whose skills and expertise complement one another beautifully. They collectively possess 25 years of experience, in every area of the organization, and it’s clear they have a shared vision that will take Film Independent to its next level of growth. We’re confident they will build upon the solid foundation Dawn established and will successfully usher Film Independent into the future,” Condon said.
“Selecting a new permanent leader for Film Independent one of the most important decisions our board has ever made. We took it very seriously and explored many candidates. We found ourselves uniquely inspired by Sean and Josh’s complimentary talents, their complete dedication, and their combined potential to strengthen Film Independent’s existing programs while developing new initiatives to serve filmmakers’ needs. It became clear to the search committee that creating a shared leadership position was the best possible way to expand the organization’s reach and carry it into the future,” search committee co-chair and board of directors member Alan Poul said.
McManus joined Film Independent in 1998 as development director and was promoted to senior director in 2006, overseeing 36 full-time staff members and more than 100 contract employees including management and administration, fund development, marketing and communications, technology, the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Los Angeles Film Festival and the Film Independent at LACMA Film Series. He has played a role in expanding the organization’s annual budget from approximately $1.6 million to more than $8.5 million, in addition to securing $3.5 million in yearly in-kind contributions.
For the last ten years, Welsh has been responsible for the overall design, strategic planning and implementation of all of Film Independent’s Artist Development programs, including the Filmmaker Labs for Directors, Screenwriters, Producers and Documentarians, Fast Track, and the Grants Program. He has spent four years administering Film Independent’s diversity program, Project Involve. Welsh also manages the Grants Program, which includes Donor Named Fellowships, Sloan Producers Grants and in-kind grants. Prior to working on the Filmmaker Labs, he was in Film Independent’s programming department.
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