NFSA welcomes significant funding boost to safeguard audiovisual collection

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has received $41.9 million in Federal Government funding to digitise the nation’s at-risk audiovisual heritage, held across eight National Collecting Institutions (NCIs).

The significant announcement, made today in Canberra by The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, and Senator The Hon Zed Seselja, Minister for International Development and the Pacific, allows the NFSA to double its current video and audio digitisation efforts, ensuring critical moments in our nation’s memory are saved for generations to come.

The funding announcement includes:

· – Digitising at-risk audio, video and film items, held by NFSA and seven other NCIs, before they deteriorate irretrievably.

· – Safeguarding at-risk First Nations audiovisual collections.

· – Increasing our digitisation efforts across film, audio and video.

· – Significantly expanding our digital storage capacity from 6PTB to 165PTB over four years.

· – Boosting storage and cyber security, to protect vulnerable systems from cyber attack.

· – Creating an off-site data centre with improved levels of cybersecurity and world leading disaster recovery options.

· – The ongoing digital preservation of newly digitised material for each participating institution.

The seven other National Collecting Institutions to benefit are: the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Australian National Maritime Museum, Australian War Memorial, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Museum of Australia, and Questacon.

The NFSA received a $5.5M federal funding boost in 2020, kickstarting a critical project to digitise audio and video magnetic tape to the highest archival standards, before it was lost forever. Today’s funding announcement builds on that work.

NFSA Chief Executive Officer, Patrick McIntyre, says today’s funding will allow the NFSA to digitise the most at-risk film across the NCIs, and will support cultural institutions to secure the future of our shared audiovisual heritage.

“We thank the government for responding to this urgent need to protect our audiovisual heritage. It represents a major commitment to preserving Australia’s history for future generations.

“The stories and memories these materials contain provide us with an immediate connection to our lived past, as well as insights into our national character and where we might be heading. And audiovisual media keep these stories alive in uniquely vital and moving ways. This boost in funds will allow us to get ahead of the risks of obsolete playback equipment and deteriorating tape formats.”

This multi-year project will build upon existing capacity, infrastructure and skills at the NFSA, cementing its position as a leader in audiovisual digitisation. All collecting institutions which hold audiovisual material have a shared responsibility to safeguard it. The collaborative approach will realise efficiencies, share knowledge and transfer skills, ensuring more people engage with, learn from, and use Australia’s audiovisual heritage in a digital format.

NFSA Head of Collection, Jacqui Uhlmann, says decades of news and popular culture remains in analogue formats, and the NFSA is working hard to digitise it all.

“This is a major investment in our future, ensuring we can save thousands of hours of radio, television and film, before it becomes unplayable.

“Digitising our collection – our memories – is a major ongoing process. We look forward to collaborating with other cultural institutions and establishing workflows to support large-scale digitisation. This is a critical project that will benefit all Australians.

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