World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

To quote UNESCOAudiovisual documents, such as films, radio and television programmes, audio and video recordings, contain the primary records of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Transcending language and cultural boundaries, appealing immediately to the eye and the ear, to the literate and illiterate, audiovisual documents have transformed society by becoming a permanent complement to the traditional written record. 

However, they are extremely vulnerable and it is estimated that we have no more than 10 to 15 years to transfer audiovisual records to digital to prevent their loss. Much of the world's audiovisual heritage has already been irrevocably lost through neglect, destruction, decay and the lack of resources, skills, and structures, thus impoverishing the memory of mankind. Much more will be lost if stronger and concerted international action is not taken. 

It was in this context, that the General Conference in 2005 approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken and to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity.

According to the UNESCO Official Proclamation of 27 October as World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, the main objectives of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage were identified as:

(a) raising public awareness of the need for preservation;

(b) providing opportunities to celebrate specific local, national or international aspects of the heritage;

(c) highlighting the accessibility of archives;

(d) attracting media attention to heritage issues;

(e) raising the cultural status of the audiovisual heritage;

(f) highlighting audiovisual heritage in da nger, especially in developing countries.

UNESCO details past celebrations: 

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2012, "Audiovisual Heritage Memory? The Clock is Ticking"

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2011, "Audivisual Heritage: See, Hear, and Learn"

World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2010, "Save and Savour your Audiovisual Heritage - Now!"

The official website for the UNESCO 2013 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is hosted by the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives (IASA) on behalf of CCAAA (Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations).  The theme for 2013 is:  “Saving Our Heritage for the Next Generation.”

Jesse Ruskin and Ayansola, southwestern Nigeria

In honor of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, the Ethnomusicology Archive will present our first "Archive Hour" of the year. 

Jesse Ruskin, PhD 2013, will give a presentation on "The Darius L. Thieme Collection of Yorùbá Music, 1964-1966" on Monday, October 21st, from 4:00 - 5:00 p.m., in the Ethnomusicology Archive (1630 Schoenberg Music Building).  Coffee and chocolate will be at 4:30 and everyone will have a chance to meet and chat with Dr. Ruskin.

Abstract of Ruskin's presentation:
Scholars like J.H. Kwabena Nketia, Jacqueline Cogdell DjeDje, and Kofi Agawu have called for increased attention to the African sound recordings that accumulate, often unused, in audiovisual archives. In this spirit, Ruskin's presentation examines the collection of Darius L. Thieme, whose pioneering field recordings of the early 1960s represent one of the most extensive documentations yet of Yorùbá music in southwestern Nigeria. This collection affords an unprecedented musical entrée into the cultural world of early postcolonial Nigeria, showcasing rarely-performed traditional musics, as well as neo-traditional and popular musics in their unmediated forms.  Addressing the larger contexts of Thieme’s work and sharing representative examples from the collection, Ruskin will assess its value as an educational resource and its implications for future research on Yorùbá music.

The Ethnomusicology Archive's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage chocolates

Events in honor of the 2013 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage also include:

There is also a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage Facebook page.  And, of course, Intangible Cultural Heritage is a part of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage for cultural researchers, like ethnomusicologists.  I discussed Knowledge (or Intangible Cultural Heritage) Repatriation in a previous column.

National Archives of Australia celebrates UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2012


Marcel Caya, Chair of the Canadian ad hoc Committee for Memory of the World, talks about audiovisual heritage and the urgency of preserving it


"Save and Savour your Audiovisual Heritage - Now!" The audiovisual archives of the United Nations



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