Dance/USA provides archiving consultations and services for artists and dance companies.
A trained and experienced archivist can help with creating an archive assessment or inventory, consult on digitization projects or other initiatives, or simply answer questions and offer advice over the phone. Dance/USA members receive discounts on archiving services.
If you have questions or would like to schedule a call to discuss these services, contact the Director of Archiving and Preservation.
Do you have questions? Wondering how to get started? You can book a one-hour call with Dance/USA’s Director of Archiving and Preservation. Email to schedule.
Dance/USA members: FREE
NOTE: The fees below are estimates, provided to give a sense of typical maximum costs. Dance/USA will provide an individual quote based on the scope of your project.
WHY should you get an archive assessment? An assessment is a vital first step in getting a clear picture of what you have, where it is, how it is organized, and what your priorities should be for addressing the most urgent needs. A professional archivist will produce a report summarizing the scope, condition, and needs of your collection and making clear, prioritized recommendations for action steps. This report lays the groundwork for establishing a sustainable plan for your records, and can also be used in applications for funding to support work on the collection.
WHAT is involved? Archive assessments can be completed quickly and do not require a significant time commitment from your staff. A consultant will conduct a site visit, which usually lasts half a day, and will interview staff who are familiar with the archive and view materials. An assessment report can be completed within one week and you will have the opportunity to review a draft and suggest revisions.
WHO does the assessment? The assessment will be performed by Dance/USA’s Director of Archiving and Preservation, who has been conducting dance archive assessments since 2010 for companies including Mark Morris Dance Group, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Meredith Monk/The House, Susan Marshall and Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Ralph Lemon, and Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company. If desired, a professional conservator or moving image preservation specialist can join the main consultant to provide additional expertise.
HOW much will it cost? The fee for an archive assessment is determined by the size of the collection and any consultant travel expenses. Estimated costs for one consultant, not including travel, are:
Non-member fee: $2,500
Member fee: $2,000
WHY do you need an inventory? A detailed inventory of your archives will help you save time by making it easier to find and use documentation of your work, and will also ensure that vital information about your legacy materials is not lost. An inventory will help you in approaching institutions that might be interested in acquiring your collection.
What is involved? Dance/USA has developed inventory spreadsheet templates that can be customized to suit the needs of your collection. An archiving assistant will work on site where your collection is, and will need access to someone who can provide content expertise. The length of time needed to complete an inventory depends on the size of the collection as well as the pace of the work, but for a small to mid-size company the process usually takes 3-6 months.
WHO creates the inventory? Dance/USA’s Director of Archiving and Preservation will assist with hiring a qualified archiving assistant to create the inventory, and will provide oversight and expertise. A successful inventory also requires the contribution of a “content specialist,” someone who is familiar with the collection, repertory, and history of the organization; this might be a long-time staff member, former company member, or the choreographer. You should identify someone who can serve in this role and ensure they are available before beginning work.
HOW much will it cost? The fee for an archive assessment is determined by the size of the collection and any consultant travel expenses. Estimated costs for consultant and assistant are:
Non-member fee: $7,625
Member fee: $7,000
WHY work with a digitization consultant? Much of the documentation of dance’s recent past is held on fragile, obsolete video formats, which will deteriorate and become unplayable unless they are transferred to digital files. DVDs are also unreliable for long-term storage and, because they are highly compressed, result in loss of image quality. If you are planning to digitize your videos, it is important to take the right steps to plan a successful and feasible project.
WHAT is involved? A consultant can help to review scope and condition of your AV materials and assist with curation/selection, identification of vendors, creation or revision of metadata, and development of sustainable storage plan.
WHO is the consultant? Dance/USA’s Director of Archiving and Preservation, who will act as the consultant, has managed large-scale video digitization projects for Dance Heritage Coalition and Mark Morris Dance Group.
HOW much will it cost? This estimated fee covers only the consultant’s time and does not include costs of digitizing or purchase of hard drives for storage:
Non-member fee: $2,250
Member fee: $1,800
Funding for Archiving Projects
The NEH offers Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Organizations that fund working with experts to improve the condition of archival collections.
The Council on Library and Information Resources offers grants for Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives..
Dance/USA Director of Archiving and Preservation
Contact: Email | 202-876-4615
Imogen Smith has more than a decade of experience as a specialist in archiving dance, and is a passionate believer that preserving artistic legacies strengthens and supports the art form. As Project Manager for Dance Heritage Coalition (DHC) she spent five years working with dance companies and independent artists around the country to assess, organize, and digitize their collections, and leading projects to process historical dance archives and create new online dance history and archiving resources. As Acting Executive Director of Dance Heritage Coalition, she oversaw the integration of DHC’s archiving and preservation programs into Dance/USA. Previously, she worked on oral history projects and video archives in the Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and on visual arts collections at the Brooklyn Museum and the Morgan Library & Museum. She earned a Master’s in Library and Information Science from Simmons College.
Propelled by our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world, Dance/USA will amplify the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive. Dance/USA is the national service organization for the professional dance field. Established in 1982, Dance/USA champions an inclusive and equitable dance field by leading, convening, advocating, and supporting individuals and organizations. Dance/USA’s core programs are focused in the areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation.
In June 2018, Dance/USA announced a new strategic plan that establishes archiving and preservation as a core service. Dance/USA’s Department of Archiving and Preservation offers expertise on archiving practices specific to dance organizations and artists, building on the integration of Dance Heritage Coalition’s (DHC) successful programs. Since 1996, DHC advanced preservation through digitization and access to dance archives, education and training, and hands-on archiving help for artists and dance companies. Archival resources are freely available on Dance/USA’s website through the Artist’s Legacy Toolkit, and the Archiving and Preservation Affinity Group provides a national network for dance archivists to collaborate and convene. Dance/USA’s Annual Conference offers opportunities to consult in person with archivists and attend panels and workshops on archiving topics.
Photo credits: All photographs by 2018 Dance/USA Archiving Fellow Carolina Meneses.