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THIS IS IT! was exactly what I needed. It left my mind whizzing with ideas. I don’t know what the future holds but I will keep working and keep climbing the ladder.”
The Creative Society is an arts employment charity that helps young people into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
The Digital Domesday project was a national initiative creating employment opportunities in arts and heritage organisations with an emphasis on digitising cultural archives and creating new oral histories. The first phase of the Digital Domesday project was curated by The Creative Society across 2010-11.
The Digital Domesday concept tackles both the urgency of unemployment and the need to safeguard the unique cultural heritage of Britain for the future by providing employment and training opportunities that produce a cultural legacy. It created real training and real jobs for young people, working on local projects with artists and archivists – collecting, digitising and collating stories, images, experiences and knowledge, and connecting with the cultural branch lines that define and link local communities.
Inspired by the oral history projects of Roosevelt’s WPA, the success of Digital Domesday proved not only that there is a job of work to be done on Britain’s archives, and young unemployed people can be employed to do it, but that the results could be tangible additions to the UK’s cultural heritage.
In the first phase of the project, the Creative Society successfully placed 110 unemployed young people into six month work placements across the UK focused on digital heritage projects.
The Digital Domesday concept flourished in the hands of brilliant creative institutions. Read on for examples of the creativity that came from putting young people together with digital technologies, our cultural heritage, and the expertise of the UK’s creative professionals.
TIME/IMAGE was the name given to a Digital Domesday film digitisation project with the British Council employing six work placements. Soon after beginning their work of digitising and publicising the British Council’s archive films, the project was picked up by the national press, including Channel 4 News, The Guardian and The Daily Mail. Bolstered by funding from the British Council, the original team have set up TIME/IMAGE as a limited company – a creative archive agency.
A year-long collaboration with the London Metropolitan Archives, involving 30 work placements lead to 270,000 photos of London being digitised, 90,000 of which are currently online on the LMA Collage site. The results of the project were also seen offline. The Image London project contributed to the LMA exhibition ‘London in Black and White’ at Tower Bridge Walkways, Summer 2011 – Spring 2012.
Working with 10 placements over 6 months innovative theatre outfit The Mayhem Company conducted an oral history of Boxing in London, and developed a research agenda around the provision of support for grass roots sport. Built around the rich oral histories collected, the Mayhem Company play, Beautiful Blows, ran as part of the Festival of Britain programme at the South Bank Centre, in August 2011.
Through a partnership with Screen Yorkshire, fifteen Digital Domesday placements worked across the media in Yorkshire. While gaining skills to further their creative careers the recruits worked together to create short films and digital representations of Yorkshire’s cultural history, about subjects such as local residents’ memories of living in Chapeltown, Leeds, and a history of the Phoenix Dance theatre. The films were screened in Leeds in July 2011.
The Creative Society and Screen Yorkshire created placements with a range of community arts, archive and screen media organisations, including: Yorkshire Film Archive, Showroom Workstation, Association of Dance for the African Diaspora, Lifeforce Productions, Huddersfield Creative Arts Network (HCAN), and Red Tape Studios.
The Digital Domesday project partnered with organisations across the UK who are at the forefront of work on digitally archiving our cultural heritage, including StoryVault - who are growing a digital record of the nation’s memories on film, Northern Region Film and TV Archive, and History Pin the innovative project to bring people together across generations and borders, by sharing historical photos.
Digital Domesday placements have been involved in projects as diverse as oral histories of Searchlight, post-WW2 East London, and the Israel Palestine conflict (through OneVoice). Closer to home placements have supported an exploration of the heritage of Britain’s second oldest theatre, the Margate Theatre Royal – and contributed to Sensoria’s digital record of Sheffield’s home grown music, the Uncommon People initiative.
The Digital Domesday project was supported by the BBC Archives (but not to be confused with the BBC’s own fascinating Domesday Reloaded).