Goldsmiths wins Heritage Lottery Fund support for the London Community Video Archive

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Goldsmiths, University of London has received a £76,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting new project, the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

LCVA will rescue, nurture and disseminate a unique and threatened part of our video culture, through archiving, oral history, outreach work and establishing a web presence. 

Portable video recording – now a technology routinely embodied in smartphones - became available for the very first time back in the early 1970s, making it possible for individuals and communities to make their own television.

The medium was taken up by people ignored or under-represented in the mainstream media – tenants on housing estates, community action groups, women, black and minority ethnic groups, youth, gay and lesbian people, and the disabled.

With an overriding commitment to social empowerment and to combating exclusion, 'Community Video' dealt with issues which still have a contemporary resonance – housing, play-space, discrimination, youth arts.

This rich heritage is now under threat of disappearing, both because of the physical decay and disintegration of half-inch reel-to reel-tape, and the ageing memories of the original ‘Community Video’ practitioners.

LCVA will archive, recover and revive this history so that it can be used as a resource for contemporary debates and activism.

LCVA is a project within the Department of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths. Project workers in the department will archive a selection of videos from the 1970s to 1985, made in London and the South East, training two apprentices in the process.

They will also conduct 20 oral history interviews with a representative sample of people active in Community Video in the area, again working with young trainee crews; then create a web platform to exhibit the archive and run an outreach and partnership programme of community screenings and events.

Sean Cubitt, co-Head of Media and Communications, said: "This award recognises forty years of Goldsmiths' engagement with community arts and media in London. It will build a major resource for the future of London's community media.”

Project co-ordinator Tony Dowmunt adds: “Since our 1891 birth in New Cross, Goldsmiths has served and been shaped by our vibrant, ever-changing and growing local community. The 1970s in particular saw an intense and turbulent political climate in Lewisham and across London as a whole.

"It is vital that we preserve the history of our communities, their ups and downs, struggles and celebrations, for future generations. We’re absolutely delighted to receive funding to make this happen.”

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