Your window to the world!

This is the theme of the World Day of Audiovisual Heritage (WDAH) for 2021. This day has been celebrated by ICA every October 27 since 2005, the year UNESCO established it with the aim of promoting the preservation of audiovisual documentation for future generations. The coordinating body for WDAH is the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA). Its website publishes the activities of the different archives and documentation centers around the world related to the preservation and dissemination of audiovisual heritage. ICA is a member of CCAAA since the beginning and it is good to know about its role from the early days in order to explain the organisation’ strong will to build bridges with other international audiovisual heritage associations.

In 1980 UNESCO issued a report titled, “Recommendation for the Safeguarding and Preservation of Moving Images”. Two years later, five organizations—International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA), International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), International Association of Sound Archives (IASA), and International Council on Archives (ICA)—formed the Roundtable of Audiovisual Archives. The roundtable’s initial efforts led to the creation of the first Joint Technical Symposium held in Stockholm in 1983. The roundtable also made contributions to UNESCO’s Records and Archives Management Programme (RAMP) Studies.

In order to expand its mission and reach, the roundtable reorganized in 2000 to form the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA), which the subsequently years added new organizations to its ranks: Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC), Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), Southeast Asia–Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association (SEAPAVAA) and the Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries (FOCAL).

Although ICA was, at this time, an active member of CCAAA, some ICA members believed the organisation’s involvement could be improved.  After the 2009 CCAAA annual meeting in The Hague, ICA appointed Joan Boadas as Commissioner for Photographic and Audiovisual Archives to create a working group that would focus on these types of records.  As Boadas considered ICA’s role within CCAAA, he made the following observations:

  • CCAAA member organizations focused exclusively on moving images and sound recordings, but not still photography.
  • CCAAA did not sufficiently know the real necessities of non-member archives, so it could not adequately select topics on which to offer training.  ICA, thanks to its organizational structure, was well-positioned to try to understand the broader realities of audiovisual heritage.
  • CCAAA is specialized in audiovisual records, so ICA could consult CCAAA for information regarding technical archival needs.  Of the CCAAA member organizations, only ICA and IFLA did not focus solely on audiovisual records.
  • There was no global agency that contributed to improving the management of photographic heritage.

Boadas concluded that ICA could be a leader in the area of image heritage by creating a working group focusing on both photography and audiovisual materials.  This group became known as the Photographic and Audiovisual Archive Group (PAAG) with the mission of attending to the needs that arise from the safekeeping of both photographic and audiovisual archives. Today PAAG is an active ICA Expert Group with many projects and collaborations works relating to audiovisual material. Its prominent role in the international scenario demonstrates the need from ICA side to have a body to advocate for audiovisual heritage.