The SIBMAS TLA Conference was a fabulous and engaging event. New York City played host to delegates representing more than a dozen countries. I am honored to have had the experience of co-chairing this event with Alan Jones from SIBMAS and working with a dynamic planning group including Sylvie Francois and Jan Van Goethem from SIBMAS and Kenneth Schlesinger.
Both Jan and I noted in our introductory remarks that initial discussions for this conference dated back more than 10 years ago. Facebook and Twitter were established in this time – imagine how much has changed in the past ten years! Under the TLA leadership of Marti LoMonaco, TLA and SIBMAS first considered San Francisco. Several years later, the conference was planned for Austin, Texas. Due to unforeseen circumstances over time, the conference was delayed. Persistence is key here for both associations did not want to drop the idea. Discussions for a joint conference resumed during Kenneth’s term as President of TLA. Kenneth brought the discussion to the TLA Board – it was at this time that New York City was suggested. Both associations enthusiastically agreed to move forward with planning. We all love NYC!
Body, Mind, Artifact: Reimagining Collections began to take root. Many thanks to Karen Nickeson, Tiffany Nixon, Doug Reside, Libby Smigel and Kenneth for their help in developing the themes for each day. We had productive brainstorming sessions early on and looking back — recognize that this was an ambitious program from the start. The call for papers encouraged creative thinking on dance preservation, digital humanities and the performing arts, and material culture and ephemera. We knew this would finally be a reality after receiving a terrific response to our call for papers.
Kenneth and I had several opportunities to meet with SIBMAS planners in person both in New York City and at the SIBMAS 2012 Conference in London. Most of the planning was completed by phone and messaging through an endless stream of emails over the past two years.
We launched the conference on June 10 at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts with registration and options for exciting excursions scheduled for the morning and afternoon. The NYC community of archivists and curators opened their doors welcoming us to learn about their collections and activities. Conference delegates had the opportunity to visit Carnegie Hall, MoMA, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Roundabout Theatre, Mark Morris Dance Group, Paul Taylor Dance, Dance Theatre of Harlem, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, the New York Philharmonic, Shubert Archive, and New York University – Fales Library. It was a fabulous start to the conference — and thank you to all of these institutions for welcoming us!
On Wednesday, June 11, we began the three-day program with a dynamic conference keynote delivered by William Ivey Long, one of the most highly regarded American costume designers for theatre and film. He was magnificent — engaging and charming. He has boundless energy. It was wonderful to hear about his process for designing and a few of his current projects. We were impressed by his commitment to preserving his own work.
Nic Leonhardt delivered a thought-provoking keynote on day two – which was followed by papers that examined projects and issues related to digital humanities. The afternoon session on recorded performance provided an opportunity to hear from Digital Theatre Plus, Metropolitan Opera and Alexander Street Press on their initiatives for the digitization and delivery of recorded performance.
For the full schedule and list of all of the presenters, please visit the conference website.
Of special note, the days did not end with the close of the conference program. On Wednesday, we enjoyed a lovely welcome reception at the Shubert Foundation. We were treated to the terrace with great views of the theatre district and the Hudson River. Many of us later enjoyed the excellent Roundabout Theatre production of CABARET. On Thursday, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of SIBMAS – at the French Consulate in the stunning Salon Rose. There was great conversation, lovely tributes to SIBMAS and delicious food, wine, and a gorgeous anniversary cake. For our closing event, the British Consulate hosted a beautiful reception for us. A hearty group of us didn’t want to end the evening just yet – we went out for more great food and wine!
Most importantly, SIBMAS and TLA had a great time together. We had a solid program that offered an opportunity to learn and share information about our work that is happening all around the globe. We also enjoyed socializing and getting to know each other.
A special note of thanks to all of our supporters that made this event possible — Shubert Foundation, Delmas Foundation, Digital Theatre Plus, EBSCO, Alexander Street Press, Routledge, John Jay College, CUNY, British Consulate, and French Consulate.
Note of thanks to the volunteers – Walter Schlect, Rachel Smiley and Emily Witkowski. Thank you to Laurie Murphy and Tiffany Nixon for your help on local arrangements.
Thank you to all the presenters and all the delegates for making the conference interesting and fun. It was a very special week in NYC!
President, Theatre Library Association