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Swiss audio-visual heritage to be preserved

Old films are particularly sensitive to wear and tear

(swissinfo.ch)

Parliament has voted through SFr11.7 million ($8.9 million) in funding to preserve Switzerland's audio-visual heritage.

The money will enable the archive organisation Memoriav to continue its activities for another four years.

Memoriav, an umbrella organisation for various national institutions, was set up in 1995 to promote the preservation of the country's audio-visual heritage. The renewed funding was accepted by 131 votes to 23.

The state already provided 84 per cent of the organisation's funding from 2002 to 2005. Previously this financial assistance had no legal basis, but now the parliament has also adopted a legal text to support funding.

"Many documents, which are part of our collective memory, are in very poor condition. In 1995, the situation was dramatic, requiring immediate action," said Chiara Simoneschi-Cortesi of the Christian Democratic Party.

Memoriav's mission is to improve the conditions of preservation, use and distribution of audiovisual archives in Switzerland. It aims to achieve this by establishing a network of the organisations concerned.

The organisation has more than 150 members, most of which are institutions. The state is one of the founding members, along with the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, swissinfo's parent company.

Backlog

There is currently a backlog of 100,000 audio files to be catalogued, according to Memoriav's director Kurt Deggeller.

Deggeller told swissinfo that the credit package accepted by parliament is only a quarter of what the institution needs to fulfil its mandate.

Memoriav is involved in the conservation of different types of documents, including photos, audio archives, film and video.

These archives are very vulnerable to the passage of time. Old films made of nitrate are particularly fragile – without the appropriate care, they begin to deteriorate after a few decades.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Memoriav is an umbrella organisation of about 150 Swiss archives and libraries.

It was founded in 1995.

Parliament has agreed a credit package of nearly SFr12 million for Memoriav during 2006-2009.

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