October 27: World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

Photo credit: Mcnulty.co.za

Photo credit: Mcnulty.co.za

In the era of mass media, when the silver screen and TV are the protagonists of global communication, the Audiovisual Documents constitute our common heritage and contain the primary records of the 20th and 21st centuries.

They help to maintain the cultural identity, permitting the peoples of the world to better share their experiences, creativity and knowledge. Unfortunately, this rich repertoire is extremely endangered, as a result of factors ranging from neglect, natural decay to technological obsolescence, as well as deliberate destruction.

In this context, the General Conference of the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, in order 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 a national identity.

We must act today to ensure that future generations can enjoy humanity’s common audiovisual heritage tomorrow. This heritage carries lessons, information and knowledge that are essential to share. It is a foundation of identity and belonging as well as a wellspring of innovation and creativity.
— Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

The measure was established in 2005 and first observed in 2007. Since then, associations around the world join together on Oct. 27 to celebrate audiovisual archives with activities that not only highlight the vulnerability of this heritage but also reward the often unheralded work of the institutions that protect it. The jury comprising members of the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations, CCAAA, also established the official logo of the commemoration, chosen from an impressive number of proposals submitted by designers interested in audiovisual heritage.

Photo credit: Unesco.org

Photo credit: Unesco.org

The winning picture, created by artist Achilleus Coronel, represents cellulose film stock that forms an adorned box, symbolizing collected media in its traditional state. The two arrows to the right are the universal symbol of the “forward” button and represent the archiving of media for future generations. These arrows also form an icon that can stand for a database or hard-disk storage. Furthermore, in 2008, UNESCO established a Multimedia Archives section, with a central repository for the audiovisual records, giving the world access to UNESCO’s audiovisual heritage on the web.

Content includes documentaries, fiction, interviews, speeches and promotional material created by the organization or related to its history and activities.

"Archives at Risk: Protecting the World's Identities" is the slogan of this year's celebration.

Let's take a look at UNESCO's web archives content, and, if possible, contribute to not lose this heritage, by preserving personal and significant audiovisual-related elements we have at home like old VHS and short clips.

(photo credit: earthtimes.org)