Preservation


In what may prove to be our only acknowledgment of May Day activities, we happily point you to the new preservation statement just released by the Technical Committee of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections.  This document contains “recommendations for preserving sound recordings… and transferring sound recordings to an archival digital format.”  Full text may be found by following the link here.

blackcatThe title of this post is to commemorate one of the more interesting items spotted for sale in the Bellevue Community College cafeteria by one of my colleagues last week while we were attending the SAA workshop, Understanding Photos.  It also can serve as a catchall for a bunch of items of interest that have been accumulating.

The image of the menu from a New York city restaurant, Au Chat Noir, was chosen because: a) we needed another cat picture on this blog; and b) wanted something illustrative, but unusual, to grab your attention about yet another historic preservation campaign related to the performing arts.  As has been widely reported, five of the remaining buildings on West 28th Street that once constituted Tin Pan Alley are up for sale (presumably for demolition and redevelopment).  32 West 28th Street isn’t among them, but perhaps some of the songwriters and publishers dined at Au Chat Noir.

Meanwhile, over on the Archives Hub blog, the latest post talks about a recent event held to demonstrate “what archives can show us about holidays and seaside resorts” in Britain and publishes a great image of a pierrot show cast, held by the University of Exeter Library.

Finally (and this is to whet your appetite for the hopefully-not-too-stale series of upcoming posts about SAA 2008 Session 406), NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday featured a segment on Jonatha Brooke’s creative utilization of material in the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery Image ID: 475669

Apologies for the long silence. Hopefully we will get back to more regular postings once February has rolled around. In the meantime, we would like to alert you to an article in last Sunday’s NYT’s Arts & Leisure section, which reports on the always innovative Merce Cunningham’s latest initiative to document his work. Funded by several grants, and in partnership with New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, the company will provide free public access to Cunningham master classes via regular download on the Web beginning in September 2008. Find out more about this exciting project, Mondays with Merce, and watch a sample video on the company’s own site.

dr_evil.jpgOnce again the New York Sun reported it first, but today’s New York Times “Arts, Briefly” column also notes that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has received a grant of $1 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The grant, which begins on 1 February 2008 and runs through 31 January 2010, will help to document 25 live jazz, theater, and contemporary dance performances, as well as to preserve oral history tapes relating to Martha Graham.

In today’s New York Sun, dance critic Joel Lobenthal concludes his review of the restored Balanchine Don Quixote film at the New York Public Library by singing the library’s praises (the only critic whom I’ve come across — so far– to explicitly do so):

The Performing Arts library’s restoration of the Balanchine-Farrell “Don Quixote” confirms its status as one of the world’s most important archives of the arts. The library is to be commended for restoring and making available this fascinating and slightly disturbing artifact.

You’ll get no argument here. Check out the rest of the piece in the Sun here (possibly the only time you may ever read that advice in this space) for some other interesting insights.

I know I promised some reports on activities at the SAA 2007 Annual Conference in Chicago, but that will have to wait at least one more day. I barely had time to glance at either the copies of the New York Times (and sometimes Chicago Tribune as well) that were deposited daily outside of my hotel room door or at my own copy of the Sunday Times at home, but going through my also-neglected Google Reader this morning, I eyeballed the following items, published over the last several days, which can give us all much to brood about. While Sweden takes decisive measures to preserve the works of Ingmar Bergman, private interests in the United States litigate over an equally vital piece of American dance history (i.e. the New Dance Group). In happier news on the dance front, it appears as if the Dance Notation Bureau has regrouped successfully. See if you agree or not with a notator’s contention that dance is not an ephemeral art. Meanwhile, in a not very provocative think piece, Jason Zinoman quavers inconclusively (in typical Times fashion) over the previously discussed Vanity Fair article’s impact upon Arthur Miller’s reputation. Finally, in Sunday’s Arts & Leisure section, there was a more informative piece on the creative reuse of material in the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives that manages not to mention the work of the archivists themselves at all.