“Planning Artist-Driven Archives” was originally conceived and proposed by Dana Whitco as founding director of the Center for Creative Research (CCR), an artist-driven think tank and inter-disciplinary research center formerly housed at New York University and now at Drexel University. The project was funded by a planning grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). In 2013, the Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) took over management of the project, with Dana Whitco remaining involved in an advisory capacity.
The project draws on ideas and inquiries generated by the CCR’s Founding Fellows beginning in 2009, and from the 2010 workshop series “The Documentation and Preservation of Dance, ”co-hosted by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (University of Maryland), which focused on technical challenges facing research institutions. The design of the current project was informed by CCR’s initiatives and its established format of convening artists for facilitated conversations, as well as by the DHC’s recent experience working with dance company archives.
Since 2010, the (DHC) has been engaged in several other grant-funded projects that dovetail with the focus and objectives of “Planning Artist-Driven Archives.” In working directly with choreographers and dance companies to secure their archives, the DHC has discovered the rich and exciting possibilities of artists’ involvement in the preservation of their legacies. This experience has given the DHC insight into the challenges and opportunities of involving artists in archival process, and positions it to facilitate a nation-wide dialogue on new artist-driven archive strategies. The emerging digital information-sharing also offers opportunities for unprecedented access to the artistic process, and the creation of newly-imagined archives that will nourish and stimulate artists themselves, archival institutions, scholars and the general public.