Sunday, November 9, 2014

Community Space: Craft Show at the Bushplane Heritage Centre

Yesterday the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre hosted the second annual holiday gift and craft show.  Held inside the museum the show featured over 100 local craft and artisan vendors.  This was my first time attending the show, it was a great way to spend a couple of hours on a rainy Saturday.

The event brought hundreds of vendors and local residents into a heritage site.  Walking through the craft show I was struck by the contrast of the permanent displays (eg. large airplanes everywhere) with tables setup for the vendors.  It was interesting to see the space being so well utilized for a public event and great to see a local heritage site supporting local artists. The event's location also made the craft show a bit more child friendly - I saw a number of children eagerly climbing into and enjoying many of the bushplanes on display as their parents took in the crafts.

Additionally, admission to the craft show was by donation and all donations went toward the Bushplane operating costs.  I've now been to a couple of larger non-heritage related events at the Bushplane. The space is often used for concerts, weddings, community fundraising activities, and other activities.  The space is essentially a large airplane hanger with a large open floor space making it a large venue with lots of capacity and potential for community events. 

The revenue model of using heritage spaces as event spaces definitely isn't unique to the Bushplane.  But it is one of the more prominent and successful examples in my community.  Hosting community events at heritage and cultural sites have the potential to bring in extra revenue, expose the general public to the site, and raise the community profile of a site. 

The holiday season brings a wealth of opportunities for heritage sites -- Christmas parties, craft shows, and special holiday programming using the site.  What innovate community uses of heritage sites have you seen recently?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Archives Meet Public History

Earlier this week the Students and New Archives Professional (SNAP) Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists hosted a joint twitter chat with the New Professional and Graduate Student Committee of the National Council on Public History.  The chat focused on the intersection of public history and archives and generated a lot of interesting ideas for collaboration.

The first portion of the chat focused on introducing participants, discussing what interested them in archives and public history, and what they learned about archives in their public history program (or vice versa). The vast majority of responses seemed to indicate that many archival programs didn't talk about public history and that most public history programs might include a class or two focused on archives.  A number of participants also mentioned gaining exposure to other fields through internships and work study opportunities.

The second section of the chat invited participants to share how they have interacted with public historians or archivists as part of their work.  A number of people (@Sam_Winn, @PubHistPhD, and @jessmknapp) mentioned that reference, outreach, and engagement work often allows them to interact with people from a variety of fields.

This was followed by a discussion of why archives, public historians, and museums don't work together more frequently on advocacy issues. Holly Croft suggested that this disconnect might be rooted in the fact that archives only recently began to advocate for themselves.  Croft's comment garnered a lot of discussion and highlighted the issue of similar fields committing for the same funding sources and lack of engagement between professional groups. 

The chat closed with practical suggestions of how these two related fields can work together.  A number of participants suggested holding more tweet chats or similar discussions which invite people from different backgrounds to engage.  Using digital and local history projects as points of collaboration was also suggested, as was the idea of holding joint professional meetings.

As someone who holds an MA in Public History and works in an archive I found the chat very interesting.  While I've worked in an archives focused role for the past four years many of the outreach and engagement practices I've undertaken are rooted in public history and the idea of a living archive.  There is tremendous potential for collaboration between fields to bring history to the forefront.