Andra Sheffer resigns from Bell Fund

The longtime Bell Fund executive director is ending her 17-year career with the organization but will remain as CEO of the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and Cogeco Fund.
Andra Sheffer

Longtime Bell Fund executive director Andra Sheffer has announced her resignation from the organization.

Following a 17-year career with the Fund, which has seen digital go from a fringe activity to the main stage, Sheffer will step down from her role at the end of 2014.

“I think it’s been coming for a couple of years,” Sheffer told Playback. “We did an awful lot of things and made a lot of changes, and I think my role in seeing all that happen has peaked and it’s time for me to take a break and let someone else with fresh ideas come on and keep this Bell Fund maturing.”

The Bell Fund is a pioneer in Canadian digital content funding and has funnelled $140 million in grants to 1,400 TV-associated digital media projects since 1997.

And while Canada’s digital footprint is growing rapidly, there was a time not too long ago where digital was still seen as a somewhat exotic activity, said Sheffer.

“The Bell Fund has gone through a lot of changes and seen a lot of drama. When I started 17 years ago, I really had to convince broadcasters not to be threatened by some little digital project online,” she recalls.

“In the beginning, none of us knew anything. We didn’t know what we were doing and digital media companies didn’t really exist,” she continues. “But when they heard that there was money to do something, they all jumped on the bandwagon and that’s what got the ball rolling. So I’m very proud of making that happen.”

Sheffer is not saying goodbye to fund-administration entirely – she will remain as CEO of the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and Cogeco Fund, remaining a touchstone for indie Canadian producers looking to fund sometimes unconventional projects.

Of her legacy, she says she’s proud of the fund’s selective funding process, and the high-quality projects it has backed over the years.

“There’s a certain pride of place [for Bell Fund projects],” she says. “Those are the ones that win awards and travel around the world. It’s given Canada a great reputation internationally.”

In the interim, Sheffer will assist the organization in sourcing a new exec director; according to a release on the transition, the Bell Fund will be posting online details on its recruitment campaign shortly.