Arts Archives as Catalysts for Change: DWAN collaborate

At the RNCM Archives, I’ve been poking at the idea of arts archives as arts resources. A lot of the collection at the College is either manuscript music, drawings, programmes or photographs. It’s a dream for outreach and engagement because so much of it created specifically to be engaged with. Music is for listening to, art is for looking at, etc..

Arts and politics, social change and protest have all been linked before and there are cultural and heritage institutions that recognise the potential for their sectors to make a difference in the here and now.

This hadn’t been the case so much for the RNCM Archives and I was itching to side-step into it, arms happily laden with politics and archives.

I’d been bringing artists and arty people down into the basement (not as Hammer Horror as I make it sound) for a good 18 months and they’d been loving the collections. Then, the opportunity to jump on the Digital Women’s Archive North Research and Development project was offered last year. It was timely and nicely experimental. Just what the archives needed.

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Delving deeper into the Museum of Transport

An absolutely fantastic project with many more wonderful things to come. Check out enJOY Arts’ other work, too! There is much to be inspired by.

enJOY arts

We had another great day at the Museum of Transport yesterday, exploring the archives and uncovering some fascinating stories with our Wythenshawe group of young women. The group are working towards a performance at the museum as part of our Her Hidden Histories project and so we took this opportunity to dig a little deeper and start taking creative inspiration from the museum’s collection. We were joined on the visit by the wonderful Heather Roberts, our Archive Consultant on the project, who helped the young women get to grips with some great journals, records and photographs from a bygone age. The group particularly enjoyed rooting through all the ‘old stuff’ and clambering into the driving seats of various different vehicles! They’ve got loads more ideas for their upcoming performance now so we’ll be sharing more details of that very soon…

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Send me to the basement and don’t come looking.

Ever been to Contact Theatre on Oxford Road? It’s the kind of building that people call “iconic” and “landmark”. I  call it “mad fantasy”.

It is shaped like a post-apocalyptic castle; all sheet metal and lights with four large cooling towers in the shape of medieval turrets. Inside is a wash of purple and orange and no straight edges in sight. I adore the thing.

I also hadn’t been in, ever, until I was asked to create their archive for them.

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Outreach and Engagement: Supply and Demand

A few months ago, God actually ages ago by now, I gave a talk to the International Association of Music Libraries (UK and Ireland branch) in Manchester.

I was asked to participate in their conference as the Royal Northern College of Music’s archivist, a fabulously fun job. The conference organisers fancied someone who could talk about outreach and engagement with collections, one of my priorities for the College’s collection. I said yes please and that was that. I was booked.

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Resilience and change: TNA’s Fundraising Cohort

Earlier this year I was incredibly surprised to learn that I had been accepted onto The National Archive’s Fundraising Cohort. I’m not part of a big service at the Royal Northern College of Music Archives. In fact it’s just half of me there. That doesn’t stop me from having big plans for it, though, including fundraising.

At the start, the Cohort met once every four to six weeks and over the period of a few months we accumulated an arsenal of methods to support our services. The main thing I was delighted to discover was that it’s all about the plan. I love a good plan.

Resilience and wanting change

See, the Cohort is more than just learning how to fill in bids. It’s about resilience. The archive sector is generally pretty good at writing fundraising bids – we’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s things like corporate sponsorship, crowdfunding, working in tandem with higher-ups etc that we are, on a whole, a little less confident with.

Truly resilient things are not unchanging. They are adaptive.

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Hidden Depths: The Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings Collection — Reading Race, Collecting Cultures

We’ve recently done a little conservation and access work on our Institute of Race Relations (IRR) Newspaper Clippings collection. It really is one of the gems of our archive – a vast collection of race-related stories from provincial UK newspapers, covering the short but intense period of September 1977 to April 1984. The collection has […]

via Hidden Depths: The Institute of Race Relations Newspaper Clippings Collection — Reading Race, Collecting Cultures

A side-door into ISAD(G)

Cataloguing is basically problem solving. You have  a jumble of stuff and you want to get it into an order that helps people understand what’s in it and how it all relates to each other.

To do this, it’s not just a case of referencing our international standard ISAD(G). Sometimes, the basic elements of ISAD(G) that you must include for every catalogue aren’t enough. However, nor are the other twenty-odd elements. I’ve recently found that it can make more sense to put your efforts into a sort of side-on approach in order to make it work.

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