In 2016, the Film & Video Arts Society of Alberta (FAVA) began a project to transfer more than three decades’ worth of Alberta media art created by its members to modern digital media. The originals will live on in the Provincial Archives of Alberta, while FAVA uses the digital copies to more widely share their members’ art with the public. The EHC is excited to support FAVA’s efforts to preserve Alberta’s arts for future generations through the Heritage Community Investment Program! We spoke with FAVA’s Dave Morgan about process of undertaking such a huge project.
Describe your project in one sentence.
Digitize and save FAVA’s media arts collection.
What gave you the idea for the project?
The Film and Video Arts Society is an artist-run cooperative serving filmmakers of Northern Alberta. We have a collection of members’ works spanning 35 years which is in dire need of saving. Video tape wears out.
What challenges did you face—and what did you learn—throughout the project?
When we began the process to explore the possibilities of saving our collection, we turned to our friends in the know. We spoke at length with both Marlena Wyman, past archivist at the Provincial Archives, and received encouragement, support and direction from the Edmonton Heritage Council.
Our concern and desire was that we proceed with solid archival methodology regarding what information we should gather about the work and how to go about it. We learned the dos and don’ts of collections, and that our collection and our wish to do right by it was valued by others.
In your opinion, what are the greatest successes and impacts from the project in the community?
Firstly, saving this treasured collection. Secondly, giving these important historical films and videos a new life and screening them to a new generation of audience. Finally, reconnecting with past members and sharing their vision of Edmonton.
Do you have any future plans to continue the work of the project? How can people become involved?
FAVA has a collection of well over 1500 works and we decided on a phased approach to saving this collection. With the continued support of the EHC and other like-minded funders we hope to digitize and exhibit the entire collection.
What advice do you have for individuals or organizations in Edmonton looking to undertake projects that share Edmonton’s story?
Since taking on this project we’ve found that many other organizations face a similar problem with their media arts collections. Tape wears out.
These are our stories, our artists, our history. Contact organizations like FAVA or the EHC for assistance to save your history.