Overcoming obstacles

You might be extremely enthusiastic about caring for your archive and collections, but there are still a number of obstacles that could prevent you from getting stuck in. The main stumbling blocks are a lack of money, space, time or expertise (about archive and collection management).

Make no mistake: all the solutions provided here require extra efforts. So if you work for an organisation, you need to make sure the whole team supports this undertaking.
Pieter Geerts, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Lack of money

Only specialist archive institutions make archive management their top priority. The fact that other organisations don’t have much money left over to care for their archive and collections is therefore understandable. Below you can find a couple of tips for how to fund an archiving project or make some of your budget available.

Structurally funded

Anyone who is structurally funded by the Arts Act needs to satisfy the ‘Managing your own archive’ grant condition. In this case, it’s best to reserve some of your budget for this. Anyone who is not funded by the Arts Act is advised to take costs for their archive and collection management into account when drawing up their annual budget.

Additional (grant) money

Additional (grant) money can be an interesting option for larger archive and heritage projects that fall outside the scope of basic management, e.g. for a publication or exhibition based on your archive and/or collections. Follow the links below to find more information about looking for extra funding.

  • You can find all the information about grants from the Flemish government via the grant guide on the Department of Culture, Youth and Media website.
  • FARO, the Flemish Institution for Cultural Heritage, publishes an overview of public and private funding sources on its website, where you can also find links to various methods of alternative fundraising, such as crowdfunding.
  • Various organisations in the cultural heritage sector can help you prepare a project application. You can find an overview of these organisations here.
  • Your archive and/or collections can also earn you money. Perhaps you still have surplus copies of programmes, posters or other promotional materials, which you might be able to put on general sale via your website? Don’t forget to mention what you want to achieve with the extra money raised! And make sure you always keep two copies of each item for your archive.
  • As well as looking for additional resources, you might also be able to limit certain costs by joining forces with other organisations, such as buying a server or back-up-system together, or renting storage space...

Lack of space

Valuable archive and/or collection items are sometimes thrown away because of a lack of space.

  • A possible solution for this is to rent a warehouse or garage for your collection. A small portion of this cost could recuperated by re-using, recycling or renting these objects. Make sure you have a good overview of these items. If renting, draw up a contract.
  • You can also save space by cleaning up your archive and collections. This involves getting rid of duplicates, draft versions and harmful materials (such as plastic folders and staples), among other things.
  • Valuation and selection. Check which documents and objects you need and/or want to keep, and for how long. You can get rid of anything that doesn’t need to be kept for legal reasons and is no longer of any use to you.
  • Check whether certain parts of your archive could be transferred to a professional storage facility. You can find more information about this at A new storage place for your archive and collections.

What can be considered for transfer?

  • Documents and objects that are barely still looked at as part of your normal work (the so-called ‘static archive’).
  • Archives and collections from other organisations (e.g. legal predecessors) and/or private individuals which you have in your possession.

Lack of time

Don’t have enough time to manage your archive? Discover how you can save time here.

  • Make use of this website and avoid time-consuming research work. We have gathered together lots of information for you about managing your archive and collections.
  • Draw up a list of priorities in consultation with your management team or board. This enables you to share responsibility for your archive management, makes it clear what needs to happen, and allows you to indicate if you need help.
  • Plan your activities as part of your day-to-day schedule. It’s easier to follow a vision if you have clear objectives and priorities.
  • You can also recruit extra help. Take into account that supervising ‘helpers’ can sometimes require more time and energy than you might realise.

What help can you recruit?

  • Your supporters and backers might have more time and desire to volunteer their help for your archive and/or collection.
  • A student on an archivist, arts, literature, musicology or arts academy course might have time to lend a helping hand over summer or want to gain some work experience in your organisation during the academic year.
  • Ex-employees know your organisation and its productions, and might be able to use this knowledge to help with your archive and/or collection needs.

Lack of expertise

Your core task doesn’t consist of archiving your work and creations, so it makes sense that you won’t have all the necessary expertise. We have gathered together lots of information on this website and you can find several more links below.

  • There are various organisations and institutions in Flanders that you can go to with all your specific (archive) questions. See Partner organisations.
  • If you know any approachable individuals or organisations that manage their own archive, then do not hesitate to contact them. They may be happy to share their experience, tips and tricks with you. Or perhaps there’s a practical example on this website that fits in with your project?
  • If you’re having difficulty identifying people, locations or objects etc. on photographs or videos in your archive, you might want to ask ex-employees, friends of the organisation or even the general public for help (‘crowdsourcing’). You should always take personal data protection into account here.

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