I originally presented this as a talk titled From Intention to Intentionality: Centering Equity, Inclusion, and Representation in Cultural Preservation at the two-day colloquium, Diversity in Collections Care: Many Voices, organized by The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in March 2021. Because it memorializes the beginnings of a monumental shift for Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) , the script from that talk has been transcribed and formatted to be shared here.
I join you today from the ancestral homelands of the Kumeyaay Nation. Colonially known as the San Diego/Tijuana border region of Southern California/Baja California Norte. The Kumeyaay peoples continue to maintain their connection to, and care for, this land.
Last summer, like many of your institutions, in the throes of dual pandemics, covid-19 and systemic racism and violence against the Black community, BACC decided it was time to make a change. After much thought, staff conceived of Preserve Community Art. This initiative was born in response to both a long standing need to acknowledge systemic racism and exclusion in the field of conservation as well as in direct and immediate response to the Summer of 2020 movement led by Black Lives Matter to address racial injustice. In its initial form, Preserve Community Art sought to support the documentation and preservation of San Diego Protest Art. The staff got to work on creating guidelines for protest art preservation and preventive care and put a call out to community members who could benefit from what BACC had to offer.
The staff at the time, put much thought into how to approach this work. It was, after all, a new direction. Assuming, like most of us do, that if we took the time and the resources to build it, "they" would come. BACC built it, but much to its surprise "they" did not come. BACC did have the opportunity to work with a couple community led projects, but in all honesty, the Black community, whose historical exclusion from these services was what inspired the creation of Preserve Community Art - was not engaged.
I titled this talk From Intention to Intentionality.
BACC's intention was to address the disparity in access to conservation services and engage the Black community and communities of color in art conservation. But intentions, as well intentioned as they may be, are passive.
Intentions are what we wake up with in the morning.
What we say to ourselves in the mirror to remind us that we've got this.
What we whisper into the wind.
We put intentions out, because we believe in some cosmic flow that will take them somewhere and materialize them for us. But Intentions are just that. Mutterings of what we want.
The journey from intention to intentionality is a long one. It starts with intention, sure. we need those. to verbalize what is in our hearts. But without intentionality, those intentions just sit there idly.
For BACC, Preserve Community Art was intention.
BACC marked this year's Preservation Week – which had the theme "Preserve Community Archives" – by posting action items on our social media pages to help people learn how to better preserve the art in their communities. In the same spirit of the week we compiled and archived the posts here for easy access.
Next week (April 25 - May 1) is Preservation Week! What is Preservation Week, you ask?
Well, it was all started by the American Library Association. In 2005, the first comprehensive national survey of the condition and preservation needs of the nation’s collections reported that U.S. institutions hold more than 4.8 billion items. Libraries alone hold 3 billion items (63% of the whole). A treasure trove of uncounted additional items is held by individuals, families, and communities. These collections include books, manuscripts, photographs, prints and drawings, and objects such as maps, textiles, paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and furniture, to give just a sample. They include moving images and sound recordings that capture performing arts, oral history, and other records of our creativity and history. Digital collections are growing fast, and their formats quickly become obsolescent, if not obsolete.
Some 630 million items in collecting institutions require immediate attention and care. 80% of these institutions have no paid staff assigned responsibility for collections care; 22% have no collections care personnel at all. Some 2.6 billion items are not protected by an emergency plan. As natural disasters of recent years have taught us, these resources are in jeopardy should a disaster strike. Personal, family, and community collections are equally at risk.
Now the ALA encourages libraries and other institutions to use Preservation Week to connect our communities through events, activities, and resources that highlight what we can do, individually and together, to preserve our personal and shared collections.
This year’s Preservation Week theme is Preserve Community Archives.
BACC will be posting action items on how YOU can help preserve the art in your community throughout this year's Preservation Week. Stay tuned!
Are you excited to see art in person again? So is BACC! And on that note, our conservators have been busy supporting museums, including the UCI Institute and Museum of California Art in Irvine, as they prepare to reopen to the public after a very long year.
Learn more about the great work happening behind the scenes at UCI's IMCA here.
FUNDS WILL BE USED TO TO SUPPORT AN INCOMING PAPER FELLOW AT THE CENTER
The Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) is pleased to announce that it has received $25,000 from The Conrad Prebys Foundation in San Diego to bolster BACC’s Conservation Fellowship Program in 2021. The project is one of 121 selected to receive funding in this, the foundation’s first-ever grant cycle, and BACC is honored to be among the inaugural cohort of grantees.
BACC’s Fellowships are an important component in training the next generation of art conservators. Historically supported through an endowment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, BACC’s Fellowship Program has for decades provided recent graduates with the opportunity to gain highly coveted experience in art conservation in preparation for a full-time career in the field. In its ongoing commitment to create opportunities that are equitable, BACC has secured this additional funding to support the growth of our existing program into one that is truly competitive, accessible, and provides a livable stipend for the incoming paper fellow.
“The Balboa Art Conservation Center is grateful to have been among those selected to receive much needed support from the Conrad Prebys Foundation during these difficult times. After a year of impacted revenues due to the pandemic, organizations will be faced with the task of rebuilding and strengthening our workforce,” noted Leticia Gomez Franco, Executive Director at BACC. “The support from the Conrad Prebys Foundation comes at a time when the Balboa Art Conservation Center has made a commitment to shift into a model that fully supports diversity and inclusion, the funds will allow BACC to build a proper foundation and strengthen our Fellowship Program to benefit communities historically underrepresented in the field, ensuring that intentional inclusion is built into the organization's long-term vision.”
Support from funding institutions, especially those so committed to San Diego like Cornad Prebys, will be instrumental in ensuring organizations can rebuild after this past year. BACC is committed to supporting art conservation and cultural preservation’s incoming workforce, and is elated to find a partner in the foundation. “Conrad was adamant that his education was a catalyst for many of the successes in his life,” said Tony Cortes, board chair of The Conrad Prebys Foundation. “He would be ecstatic to see the foundation supporting organizations that inspire a love of learning and promote advancement opportunities within our region.”
Applications for the 2021 Paper Conservation Fellowship funded by the Conrad Prebys Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will be available beginning March 24, 2021 on BACC’s website.
For more information, or to request an interview, please contact Staci Golar at email@example.com or call 619.236.9702.
About the Balboa Art Conservation Center
With 45 years of experience, the Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) is the western region's premier non-profit art conservation facility, offering museum-quality conservation treatments, investigative technical imaging and analysis, and extensive preservation services for institutions and individuals. A nonprofit organization, BACC is located in the heart of Balboa Park. Learn more at www.bacc.org