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Preservation Project - Phase I

Phase I: Exploration of Issues and Possible Roles for the Federation

Preservation Roundtable, January 2009, Monaco

The Federation began exploring the topic of preservation of circus memory and objects by compiling a list of known circus collections and collectors and by convening a Roundtable meeting to discuss preservation trends, needs and issues in relation to circus in January of 2009. The goals of the Roundtable were: (a) to create a platform for ongoing communications among Roundtable experts and future participants that would facilitate information sharing and enable experts to collaborate as appropriate; and (b) to identify options, through the Federation website, publications and/or other communication methods to be undertaken by the Federation, for the creation a point of contact that would help link owners of circus memorabilia to experts and/or centers engaged in preservation work. Roundtable participants also were asked to discuss ideas for additional projects or activities that could be usefully undertaken by the Federation.

The clear conclusion of the Roundtable participants was that the Federation could play an important and unique role in offering a platform through which a worldwide network of persons and institutions involved in the preservation of circus history, artifacts and memorabilia could exchange information and, eventually, perhaps the international exchange of exhibitions. The participants recommended that the first task of the Federation should be to expand its lists of public collections and private collectors and to make information about public collections available through its website. Contact information for private collectors will be kept confidential by the Federation.

In July 2009, the Federation met with representatives of the Société Internationale des Bibliothèques et des Musées des Arts du Spectacle (SIBMAS) to explore possible collaboration. It was agreed that the new searchable database to be developed by SIBMAS could be the perfect vehicle for disseminating information about circus collections. Accordingly, the Federation joined SIBMAS as an institutional member with the idea that the Federation would continue its efforts to obtain information about existing collections with the objective of incorporating that information in the future SIBMAS database and linking it to the Federation’s website. The Federation would also remain responsible for maintaining the information. The Federation was introduced to the SIBMAS membership in early 2010 through an electronic communication by its president. Federation events, such as World Circus Day, also have been included in SIBMAS’s electronic newsletter.

In late 2009, the Federation Board of Directors asked Mr. Rodney Huey, an advisor to the Federation and also a circus historian, to lead the Preservation Project.