The Playback Oral History Project – State Library of Queensland.

The State Library Queensland is currently seeking Expressions of Interest for their Playback Oral History Project in 2014.

Below is a very brief summary taken from the SLQ Website. For further information, please click on the applicable links.

As a result from the State Library of Queensland’s Digitisation and Access survey it has been noted that the sheer volume of material captured over time and stored on magnetic tape is becoming progressively challenging to store, access and maintain in preservation for the future.

The Playback Oral History project aims to: “…digitise, preserve and provide access to 200 hours of Queensland’s un-digitised oral history material currently held in public libraries and local communities throughout the state”.

Expressions of Interest are sought for the following:

“From public libraries, in partnership with their nearby local museum, archive, heritage organisation or community group to:

  • identify twenty (20) hours of significant oral content from local collections for digitisation;
  • participate in a 3-day training workshop;
  • create and present new content using newly digitised oral history at a Heritage Tourism Symposium”.

A further description of this exciting project and contact details for Expressions of Interest can be found on the SLQ website, via this link.

Uralla Story Sound Walk

As part of the Co-Creative Communities forum last November, we also ran a project development lab. One of the highlights of the day was Uralla Story Sound Walk, a hybrid media project bringing together folk from oral history initiative The Story Project, and Uralla Arts, the local arts collective.

The Sound Walk represents the next stage of The Uralla Story Project, bringing the audio pieces already recorded out into the community in the form of a creative audio-tour you can access on your smart phone. It will let locals and visitors discover more about the tiny New South Wales town, its history and its community.

This is how the team describe the project:

Imagine you are walking around the centre of town with your mobile, and suddenly you hear music, then a voice starts telling you stories from the past. This idea is to bring Uralla stories alive in the street by creating a sound walk that you can listen to on your smart phone. The stories are told by Uralla locals, woven in with music, myths, poetry and sounds from local artists and writers. It’s a first in regional Australia.

The team behind Uralla Story Sound Walk have had a very busy time since we last saw them in November.

After wrangling additional Council and community support, and securing most of the funding, the last stage of the project looks ready for lift off.

If you like the, erm, sound of Uralla Story Sound Walk, then make sure you vote for their project at:

Andrew Parker from Uralla Arts says “Each vote gets us a $ amount and gets us closer to the project happening. I met yesterday with a regional tourism rep who is now interested in looking at a regional application of this project after Uralla gets up. This would really put the arts and artists in this region on the map. So it is all very exciting.”

Public storytelling at the Smithsonian and beyond

Helen Klaebe is one of the Chief Investigators on the Community Uses of Co-Creative Media project, and she has just returned from the last leg of her five month Queensland Smithsonian Fellowship, which was awarded in August 2011. I asked Helen to pass on some reflections on her trip as it relates to our research project, and here they are – enjoy!

– Jean

Smithsonian update
For the last decade my creative writing-based research has focused on traditional and new ways of telling stories using new media – non fiction stories about real people in real places. Oral histories have been my method of choice, and one from which many storytelling products can be produced, such as writing a book, creating digital stories, inspiring public art or curating an exhibition.

The Qld Smithsonian Fellowship provided me with the opportunity to work alongside leading researchers at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), in order to trial innovative ways of evaluating public narrative-driven Arts-based programs, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which attracts over a million visitors annually – showcasing artists, crafts specialists, and performers who tell stories about their creative practice. I have also examined how the facilitator/curator assists the storyteller – either in a ‘real’ performative setting, or through digital storytelling (video/images/blogs online) to tell their stories.

As part of my Fellowship I conducted a literature review; interviewed curators/interns/sponsors, attended planning meetings and workshops; built an evaluation model for the Smithsonian Institute (SI); produced templates to be trialled in 2012; produced a brief evaluation report on the 2011 Colombian program- including the use of video/images/blogs to tell stories; worked with SI curators on the 2012 program; conducted training in evaluation and digital storytelling, integrated evaluation models into 2012 activities; and returned for the summer Festival, monitoring evaluation and storytelling practices. Now that I’m back in Australia, we will produce a free online toolkit for organizations of all sizes that clearly explains how to better evaluate narrative-driven community engagement activities, where artists or creative practitioners are engaged in storytelling in public spaces.

Reflections on the art of storytelling – digital, interactive, live
While living in the US I became very interested in the growing public storytelling phenomenon that seems to be exploding – involving live storytelling performances with deep connections to various digital manifestations – examples include The Moth, This American Life, and Story League.

Some of the highlights of exploring ‘real stories’ re-presented in real places I experienced while in the US included: talking to ‘artisans at work’ in Bogota and its surrounds in Colombia; visiting the interactive Katrina Exhibition in New Orleans (featuring oral history interviews used to make digital stories); comparing the depiction of Thomas Jefferson at Thomas Jefferson’s farm Monticello, Charlottesville to the Smithsonian’s American History Museum exhibition; climbing through the abandoned streets that lie beneath the city of Seattle on an underground walking history tour; seeing the official 9/11 memorial and then visiting the ‘unofficial’ interactive museum where interview material works powerfully with objects; and (although fictional) in New York I was inspired by a locative, interactive performance of Sleep No More, an interpretation of Macbeth.

Storytelling is alive and well in the digital age. These examples, and the many other contemporary projects like them, show that the new hybrid, multi-platform and emplaced ways that stories can be re-presented and shared offer exciting new opportunities for storytellers, facilitators, curators and audiences.

Helen Klaebe