Audiovisual documents, such as films, radio and television programmes, are our common heritage and contain the primary records of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries. Unfortunately, that heritage is now endangered, because sound recordings and moving images can be deliberately destroyed or irretrievably lost as a result of neglect, decay and technological obsolescence. Through initiatives such as the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage and the Memory of the World Programme, the work of preservation professionals is encouraged, in order to manage the range of technical, political, social, financial and other factors that threaten the safeguarding of our audiovisual heritage.
The General Conference of UNESCO approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in 2005 as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need to preserve and safeguard important audiovisual material for future generations, and for urgent measures to be taken to conserve this heritage and ensure it remains accessible to the public now, and to future generations.
Our collective histories are often captured on film, video, audio or digital formats, and through these, we engage to learn about the past and to share our own histories with future generations. Increasingly recordings serve as our memories and tell the stories that constitute our cultural heritage. In recognition of the preservation efforts of the thousands of archivists, librarians and caretakers around the world who care for these valuable collections, this year’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage again celebrates their dedication and expertise. Without the knowledge and devotion that is required to preserve, digitize and provide access, large portions of our cultural heritage would disappear to be lost forever.
Why do we mark International Days?
International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. More information available here.