Since 2002, the Dance Heritage Coalition has investigated ways to make the records of America's dance more accessible. The current project, in partnership with the Bay Area Video Coalition, creates a "secure media network" of materials that can be delivered to libraries and centers for teaching and research without danger of unauthorized copying or distribution. The early pilot version can be found at archive.danceheritage.org.
This site currently contains:
a searchable database of moving images - films, analog and digital tapes, and digital files - held by dance libraries. Most of these have never been publicly released. New partners will be contributing their catalog records, but currently the catalogue holds information on more than 27,000 items.
streamable files of moving images that have been digitized for preservation and access under this program. This pilot phase has supported the digitization of about 100 obsolete-format videotapes.
In the next phase of development, more tapes will be digitized and added and the DHC's growing searchable database of special collections in dance-related materials will be moved to the "secure media network" from the main pages of the DHC website, to create a full-fledged one-stop virtual research website. Long-range the DHC will begin to add contextual materials for the digitized moving images - the photos and posters, programs, critical reviews, and other materials essential to study of the moving images.
Vast amounts of one-of-a-kind materials that document dance practices and performances are safeguarded in special collections in libraries, archives, and museums. Because most of these valuable materials have never been released commercially, teaching and research in dance has suffered. A virtual resource that aggregates significant materials from the DHC member archives and other stewards of dance legacy will; significantly improve teaching of dance and enrich scholarly discourse. An online resource will also affirmatively address ADA compliance, as many archives are not fully handicap accessible. And where funds are not available for faculty development and research, this resource ensures that materials can be delivered for study and research to offsite centers, a virtual application of the Interlibrary Loan model where rare materials can be sent to a library where a patron can make use of it within library walls.
A technology initiative of this magnitude depends upon funding from government sources and private foundations, as well as the generosity of individuals who nominate materials for inclusion in the network.
Since 2002, funding has been provided by following organizations:
the National Endowment for the Arts,
the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.