The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage - 27 October - is key initiative for both UNESCO and the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) to honor audiovisual preservation professionals and institutions that safeguard our heritage for future generations. Around the world audiovisual archives join together annually on this day to celebrate their work with events that not only highlight the vulnerability of these valuable materials, but also to celebrate the often, unheralded work of the institutions that provide protection and preservation, ensuring their availability in the future.
This year the theme of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage is "Your Window to the World".
2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year so far, with the COVID-19 pandemic bringing the world to its knees. Although we cannot yet fully grasp the economic, social, and cultural impact this major crisis will have on our societies, it has already exacerbated existing humanitarian and political crises in many parts of the world; it has brought mass unemployment, further exposed inequities within our communities, and created new epicenters of hunger. During this time of social distancing and social unrest, audiovisual materials in the form of sound recordings, film, and video have provided crucial documentary evidence of both atrocities and triumphs of the human condition.
The CCAAA, along with other documentary heritage partners, co-signed UNESCO’s statement “Turning the threat of COVID-19 into an opportunity for greater support to documentary heritage” in order to stress the importance of recorded materials and promote the preservation and accessibility of audiovisual content. Audiovisual materials as documentary heritage objects provide a window to the world as we observe events we cannot attend, we hear voices from the past who can no longer speak, and we craft stories that inform and entertain. Audiovisual content plays an increasingly vital role in our lives as we seek to understand the world and engage with our fellow beings.
It is true that audiovisual materials are not inert and the archives that preserve them are not apolitical. While audiovisual recordings provide documentary evidence, they can also be highly mediated to tell a story from a specific perspective. At worst, they can be used to tell a false narrative. At best, they can be used to tell stories that would otherwise be silent. They can tell your story, your truth, your existence.
Join us on 27 October 2020 for World Day for Audiovisual Heritage by posting your events to this webpage: ccaaa.org/WDAVH2020. Promote justice, equity, and peace through audiovisual recordings. Celebrate the triumphs in your community and entertain us with your story. Show us your window to the world.
Toby Seay, Chair of the CCAAA