“There is no time to lose. From 2025 onwards, it will be very difficult to extract information contained in sound supports, due to the degradation of materials, but above all due to technological obsolescence”, said the anthropologist, at a session to present the Recovery and Resilience Plan ( PRR) for Culture, in Lisbon.
Within the scope of the PRR, an investment of two million euros is planned, at the end of 2024, for the creation of the National Sound Archive, which will be installed in Mafra.
“Throughout 2022, we are going to devote efforts to building the archival infrastructure”, with the equipment expected to be acquired in 2024, said Pedro Félix.
“The objective of the investment in the context of the PRR is to provide the country with an adequate, efficient and sustainable infrastructure to allow the preservation” of the Portuguese sound heritage, whose universe exceeds 600,000 sound units.
According to the anthropologist, 67% of the 600,318 recorded Portuguese sound documentary goods are under the direct or indirect tutelage of the State.
Pedro Félix underlined that “it is urgent” to process and digitize around 168,000 sound documents (28% of the total universe) in the space of a decade.
“The useful life of the supports is limited. Digitization is crucial. Until now, many of the preservation actions have been marked by a certain inconsistency”, he lamented.
The National Sound Archive will be “an archival structure focused on sound documents” in any “support, system, or format known today or to be invented”, reads the official page.
The main function of the archive will be to create, gather, catalogue, preserve and generate the audio documents, which will have a relationship with a Portuguese context or with the Portuguese language. This document can be a speech, a conversation, a song, a soundscape.
The first time in Portugal there was talk of the need to create a national archive for sound, such as exists for moving images, books or photography, was in 1935, with the creation of the former National Broadcaster.
In July 2020, UNESCO published the results of a study that warns “of a dramatic situation: from 2025 onwards, magnetic supports can hardly be read”, stressed Pedro Félix.
“We have to intervene. The intervention window is very short. We estimate that between 10 to 15 years is the time of opportunity to intervene in the preservation of this content”, he reinforced.
The National Sound Archive will be installed in Mafra, through a protocol signed on December 3rd between the Ministry of Culture and the City Council.
The local authority will provide a building for the installation of the Archive, as well as the execution of the preliminary program and the architectural project, in a concerted work between the installation team of the National Sound Archive and the General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries.
SS (FCC) // TDI
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