50 Years of Western Front: Transfer, Access and Preservation

Western Front’s media archive is inextricably entwined with our programming. Having taken root from the early efforts of Kate Craig and other Western Front founders, who embraced the potential of new technologies to document performance and create independent media art productions, the archive has continued to grow since 1973 and records almost all of Western Front’s initiatives dedicated to the production and presentation of contemporary art across its history. The archive acts as our institutional memory and a resource to be reactivated through research, artistic engagement and public access.

In the lead-up to Western Front’s 50th year, we are pleased to announce the commencement of our largest digitisation project to date. Through the generous support of Library & Archives Canada’s Documentary Community Heritage Program, over the coming three years, Western Front will digitise its complete collection of 1,300+ analog videotapes, to preserve these important records for posterity and to create new opportunities for access. This work builds upon the archival infrastructure established by Caitlin Jones, Scott Owens, Jana Grazley, Shyla Sellar, Kristy Waller, and Anna Tidlund.

To complete the project, we are pleased to welcome archivist Abigail Sebaly, who recently completed a dual Master of Archival Studies and Master of Library and Information Studies with a First Nations Curriculum Concentration at the University of British Columbia. Abi also has an extensive background in dance and arts administration, and was inspired to formalise her archival training while cataloguing the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s collection of sets and costumes at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. She also holds degrees from the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago.

Supported by Library & Archives Canada through the Documentary Community Heritage Program.