Collections and projects

Inspiring with good practices from home and abroad

Het Firmament inspires, advises and supports organisations, communities and individuals on how to proceed in a current, reflective and careful manner with the cultural heritage of the performing arts. It offers insights, methods and tools, based upon the needs in the field and for individual research, complementary to existing (inter)national knowledge and expertise. Het Firmament thus goes in search of model practices from home and abroad in the area of maintenance and management, research, transmission, digitising, unlocking heritage andpublic-oriented activities. A selection of this is worked out here as example practice and published on the website. By showing diverse initiatives that can be realised with performing arts heritage, we inspire organisations to take them up for themselves.


Finding performing arts archives and collections

In Flanders, performing arts heritage is not centrally controlled and currently there is still no museum or archive institution that systematically archives and records collections from the performing arts. Het Firmament is fully engaged in bringing the collections and archives into focus and to describe them. Because, much exciting heritage is spread out by various key figures from the arts and heritage field, from museums and archive institutions to communities and in peoples’ attics. This overview is necessary to truly stimulate and inspire curators, artists, researchers, etc. and to be able to establish public-oriented initiatives. With descriptions that enrich collections with sufficient contextual information can subsequently chart the relationships amongst the collections. It can bring unexpected possibilities to light. We make the collections already identified visible via the website.


To a community for performing arts heritage

Het Firmament fulfils an agent’s role in the expertise network of the cultural heritage of the performing arts. It is building a platform on which to further develop knowledge and expertise and to share with the nurturing and security of the tangible and intangible heritage of the performing arts in Flanders. To this end it will set up regular stimulating meetings and study days.

As such, Het Firmament annually organises a symposium at The Flanders Theatre Festival. (Performing) artists, key heritage figures, academics and interested persons go there to discuss various themes, such as, for example, at the event #DocumentingPerformingArts in 2015. The increasingly large turnout, positive testimonies and exciting interventions prove that the interest in the interaction with performing arts heritage and the need to reflect on this is great.


Audio-visual archives: from inventorying to digitising

A sustainable digitising and conservation of audio-visual material transcends the inherent possibilities of all performing arts organisations. In a centrally coordinated way, Het Firmament along with PACKED vzw (expertise centre for digital heritage) takes this challenge seriously.

The first step was formulating an inventory of the audio-visual archives of the performing arts sector. Research and survey provided an inventory of the archives of 74 performing arts organisations, which form a cross section of the subsidised performing arts sector. Together, they possess more than 27.000 audio-visual media to digitise. We entered into collaboration with the Flemish Institute for Archiving (VIAA), which was established in 2012 by the Flemish government to digitise digital heritage in Flanders in a sustainable way and to make it accessible.

The overview of audio-visual material present in the theatre and dance companies has ensured that in 2016 already the VIAA will start with the digitising of these audio-visual archives and with the conservation of digital archives and collections. At a certain time these files will be made accessible online for education and research and, of course, for the companies themselves.

TRACKS: an online toolbox for the preservation of archives and collections in the arts

TRACKS is the ‘toolbox and guidelines for the care of archives and collections in the arts field’. With TRACKS, we aim to develop an awareness for the sustainable care of archives and collections in the arts field. The toolbox does not only focus on papers or records, but also on other objects and materials (physical and digital). It covers a broad range of art forms and aims to reach professional as well as amateur artists, and art organisations. TRACKS concentrates on architecture and design, music, theatre and performance, visual and media arts and literature. It is partly available in English.

Starting from the website, we provide a range of services (from group workshops to customized advice) to support artists and arts organizations in the application of the guidelines in their daily practice.

TRACKS was developed by PACKED vzw, the centre of expertise in digital heritage in Flanders, in association with Het Firmament and in collaboration with several arts and heritage institutions in Flanders (Belgium).