SOIMA 2015 International Conference

3-4 September 2015 in Brussels, Belgium

Unlocking Sound and Image Heritage


See, Listen, and Share

The Challenge

Recorded sound and images have captured our world, our lives and our imagination. They bring knowledge, enjoyment and inspiration to us and enhance many professions, from education, design, software development and human rights advocacy, to those more directly related to audiovisual media, such as film and documentary production.

Thanks to rapid advancements in social media and information technologies, it has become much easier to share and use sound and image content. Yet contrary to common perception, not all content is readily usable. Beyond large broadcasting archives and dedicated audio-visual repositories, there is extremely valuable content of sound and image, both still and moving, spread among diverse cultural and research organizations and individual collections. Unfortunately, many of these lack the necessary information, skill sets and resources to protect this heritage from physical deterioration, technological obsolescence and various disasters. Global statistics are difficult to find, but it has been estimated that in Europe alone, some 57-63% of sound and image content is held in outdated formats that are in need of digitization to ensure accessibility.

Knowledge on sound and image preservation and access is fragmented, trapped in separate areas of expertise, thereby adding another challenge to content collectors and users:

Collaboration, and exchange of information and know-how between institutions and specialists is key to unlocking this heritage

Soima 2015
International conference
See, Listen and Share

The conference is based on the collective experience of ICCROM’s multi-partner programme on Sound and Image Collections Conservation (SOIMA), which organized five capacity building initiatives (four international and one regional) in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America during 2007-2014. Building on SOIMA’s global insights from bringing together 89 sound and image professionals from 55 countries to date, the 2015 conference is making a strong case for looking beyond professional and institutional boundaries, actively listening to each other and sharing strategies to ensure a safe and creative tomorrow for sound and image heritage. The conference aims to promote the sound and image heritage held by diverse and lesser-known cultural and research institutions, as well as individual collectors.

Conference goals

  • Raise awareness of the immense spread and significance of the world’s sound and image heritage, serving the ultimate goal of improved future preservation, access and use.
  • Provide professionals from different disciplines with an occasion to reach a shared understanding, build collaboration and develop solutions for common problems.
  • Showcase innovative examples, and help identify new applicable strategies, based on how sound and image collections have been preserved, made accessible and used creatively in real-life practice.
  • Share how pioneering training and education initiatives have produced results, and discuss future needs and concrete possibilities.
  • At the end of the conference, make recommendations for cross-disciplinary collaboration, and exchange on information and know-how.

Who attends

  • Sound and image collectors: cultural and research organizations, individual collectors, curators, archivists, librarians and other managers of cultural heritage.
  • Preservation and access specialists: professionals specializing in the preservation of analogue and digital media, software and app developers, as well as policy makers and professionals who deal with intellectual property rights.
  • Cultural and creative industries: creators and users of sound and image content by different industries.
  • Researchers and business developers: culture policy makers and researchers, consultancy firms.
  • Educators and trainers: education policy makers and professionals providing both formal and non-formal training for sound and image preservation and access.

Why attend

  • Experience some of the hidden sound and image treasures unlocked from unique collections across the world.
  • Share experiences with dedicated people working on saving collections under difficult conditions.
  • Explore novel solutions with some diverse and innovative thinkers from past SOIMA events.
  • Meet people from different sectors that share interest in sound and image heritage.
  • See innovative, real-life examples of how sound and image heritage has been preserved, made accessible and used creatively.
  • Imagine future opportunities for sound and image collections.
  • Take part in a truly international conference, allowing you unexpected perspectives and networking possibilities.
  • Receive the key conference outcome that will be summarized in an e-publication, covering conference proceedings and other programmes, including highlights and information on special sound and image content that were shared during the event.
  • Last, but not the least, the conference format gives plenty of opportunities for interaction with contributors and participants.

Conference Sessions


Session 1.1: A Value Chain for Unlocking Sound and Image Heritage

Sounds and images can spur creativity and growth. They can help create just societies. Thanks to technological advancements, it has become easier to share them and explore new ways of making meaning. Yet many institutions that collect sound and image content are finding it challenging to sustain its preservation and access over time. Amidst much uncertainty one thing is sure: it is not just about lack of funds! The performance, talks and posters featured in this this theme make a case for developing a holistic approach to the management of a collecting institution and the ways in which it makes the wealth of sound and image content accessible to current and future users. In other words, the processes of creation, collection, preservation, access and use are interlinked, and if analyzed as well as implemented in day to day functioning, these interlinks could create a value chain for unlocking the potential of sound and image heritage

Session 1.2: Values and Collections across the World

Recorded sounds and images exist in a variety of institutional contexts ranging from museums, dedicated audiovisual repositories to universities and individually held collections. Talks featured in this session highlight diversity of both the collections and values that they represent or issues they contribute to. The visual data and recordings do not present only the “safe stories”. The heritage paradigms or methods like PALIC provide grounded platforms or frames for communication, dialogue and awareness raising. What is at stake is serious: dealing with past violence and the sustainability of the work of truth commissions and reconciliation (discussed in papers presented by Swinnen and Ott & Oliveira), propagating intangible heritage (Farah Al-Sabah), lack of resources in contrast to aspirations and needs (e.g. Opoku-Boateng or Arce). These issues not only contextualize but also enhance the importance of working in and with sound and image collections and legitimize the efforts of taking care of this material. Furthermore several papers explore the borders between memory studies, soundscape and urban studies (Pinar Yelmi) and the paradigm of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Systematically documenting and managing meta-data and access to the audio-visual collections proves crucial in all these cases.

Session 1.3: Digitization: Why and How?

Institutions across the globe are slowly realizing the urgent need to reformat magnetic and other audiovisual media before it becomes impractical or impossible. Experts are now saying that we only have 10-15 years remaining before a viable, cost-effective solution to large scale digitization is no longer available. Given this short timeframe, difficult questions must be asked and answered quickly: Why should these recordings be digitized at all? What should be digitized first? What will happen if we continue to wait? How can this effort be funded? Who should be responsible? Presenters in this session will talk about this issue from very different perspectives

Session 1.4: Digitization

Institutional Strategies A

Long term preservation of sound and image heritage cannot be achieved without the adoption of some tactical approaches.   In this session, we will listen to speakers from three countries (Brazil, Poland and Belgium) who will share their experiences in preservation efforts in their institutions.  Ariane Gervasio, will brief us on how an Audiovisual Archives in a University can be useful in preserving educational and institutional history.  Elzbieta Wysoka, will give us an insight into her Digital Repository Project (DRP) in a film archive Rony Vissers will  in his turn raise some question on the meaning of digitising and thus preserving AV objects, a reflection that arose during the digitisation project of a master copy of a recording of a unique live television broadcast from 1969 of the performance The Word Question Centre by the American artist James Lee Byars.

Institutional Strategies for Digitization B

Digitisation for preservation and durable access requires investments and long-term commitment from various stakeholders. This session offers insights in current digitisation practices in three countries (Chile, Italy and France).  Federica Bressan and Angela Ida De Benedictis discuss how concepts of ‘mass’ digitisation’ can be applied also to collections that require undivided attention for each individual item. The use case is the private collection of Luciano Berio, a pioneer in the field of electronic music. The second contribution, by Michel Merten, focuses on the concept of Public Private Partnerships as a novel approach to manage digitisation projects. The use case is the partnership between Memnon and the French National Library on digitising and access provision to 180,000 (78 rpm and LP) records. As part of the business model, the collections will be monetised to recoup parts of the initial investment. The third speaker, Soledad Abarca, will share insights of the on-going digitisation efforts at the National Library of Chile. An extensive survey of the collection was executed before a digitisation station was installed. Thousands of carriers will be digitised and made available online (website of the library, Vimeo) and on-site.

Session 1.5: What do we do with AV-Carriers after Digitization?

As ever more audiovisual collections get digitized, the question arises what to do with the original carriers, after the migration to file based formats is done. Classic archival theory says we should keep them ‘whenever possible’. But what if storage issues come up for example? Will we keep them, and for how long then, or discard them? Undoubtedly there is no simple answer, so we sure should formulate a nuanced advice. The session will start with a brief introduction and the approach taken by VIAA. Four specialists from all over the globe will then discuss the theme, leaving space also for questions or remarks from the public.

Session 2.1 & 2.2: Connecting Heritage to people

Preserving heritage and connecting it to people have the possibility of reinforcing each other.  At the same time, increasing public participation in the process of describing heritage can increase the potential of its creative reuse transcending both, institutional and geographical  boundaries.  Participatory and open access can help fulfill the goal of making cultural heritage available to all and promote societal growth.  Yet, it is important to understand both, pros and cons of open access. Speakers and posters will share their insights on the theme highlighting varied experiences that include educational initiatives, digital cultural projects, advocacy as well as different types of partnerships and collaboration

Open Access: Friend or Foe of Sound and Image Heritage? (Debate)- Moderator: Howard Besser

“Open Access” is a popular concept in today’s web-based society. Few people outside the content industry oppose the concept of Open Access. But how appropriate is Open Access to the cultural heritage community? Are there cases where an Open Access policy will conflict with other important cultural heritage principles, leading to decontextualization or commodification of works in our collections? Or can an Open Access policy lead to a betrayal of of the trusting relationship that we have cultivated with certain communities? Come hear a lively debate where three cultural heritage professionals discuss these issues.

Session 2.3:  Enhancing Institutional Capacities and Preparing the Generation Next

The requirements for sustainable sound and image preservation and access continue to rapidly evolve. In the last 10 years alone, we have seen a dramatic shift in the skills required of caretakers responsible for the longevity of these materials. No longer do we need people who are experienced in just handling physical media and reformatting; today expertise in a range of topics — from policies and workflows to digital storage and databases — is essential. How are experienced professionals expanding their skillset in order to manage these shifting demands? And how are new professionals being prepared to work in a world that will undoubtedly require different skills than we need today? Presenters in this session will provide a variety of perspectives on these questions.

Turning Vision into Reality and Enabling Positive Change – Moderator: Aparna Tandon; Visual Facilitator: Chris Malapitan

A picture is worth a thousand words and has the power to shape as well as transform our ideas- to begin with some of the biggest inventions of our time such as the aeroplane were human imagination captured in two dimensional drawings! Using the powerful tool of visual thinking, this session will engage the audience in a participatory brainstorm to first, sketch an image of the future of sound and image heritage, and then draw action steps or strategies that we need to adopt today in order to make a positive change and turn our vision of the future into reality.



Download the book of abstracts (PDF)



                                The Cost of Inaction-an innovative cost-benefit measuring tool

             Fragments of Extinction – eco-acoustic concert calling to safeguard equatorial rainforests

                                                                                     What do we do with AV-carriers after digitization?

          Timbila Tracks – a video concert to preserve disappearing traditional musical culture

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Archives in Dealing with the Past Processes

                                  Open, connected and smart heritage

                                                      Gamified Crowdsourcing


More than 60 different contributions ranging from Australia to Austria, from UK to USA, from Poland to the Philippines, from Kenya to Kuwait, from Chile to Congo, from Mozambique to Mexico, from Switzerland to South Africa and many more!

Representing international bodies, organizations, institutions, universities, archives and museums, such as FIAT-IFTA, Memnon, Sound and Vision, Europeana, National Film and Sound Archives of Australia, University of Delaware, NYU, Cairo University, the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, Open Knowledge Foundation, Presto Centre, Swisspeace, British Library, …


Programme Highlights


Fragments of Extinction - eco-acoustic concert calling to safeguard the fast disappearing equatorial rainforests, 2 September, 18.00.

Bury My Bones, but Keep My words: Transmitting the Legacy of our Ancestors to our Descendents – Keynote performance by Mshai Mwangola, 3 September, 9.30.

The Cost of Inaction - an innovative cost-benefit measuring tool, by Chris Lacinak of AV Preserve, 3 September, 14.00.

Open Access:  Friend or Foe of Sound and Image Heritage? A fiery debate on Open Access vs Intellectual Property Rights, moderated by Howard Besser, 4 September, 11.00.

Timbila Tracks – a video concert by Matchume Zango and Walter Verdin to preserve disappearing traditional musical culture, 4 September, 17.30.


Download the programme PDF


Pre-conference workshop

27 August – 2 September 2015

Application deadline: 30 April, 2015

As a pre-cursor to the two day SOIMA 2015 international conference, ICCROM and its partners are pleased to announce a five-day intensive workshop on Sustaining Sound and Image Collections. The workshop is tailored to address the challenges of collecting, preserving and using (and reusing) sound, still, and moving image content within the broader context of rapidly changing technology and shrinking resources. It will focus on collection management issues in different institutional contexts that are unique to these types of materials.

The overall emphasis is on strategic decision-making and practical execution of solutions. In particular, it will showcase cost efficient strategies for prioritising content, developing robust digitization and preservation programmes, and promoting wider use of collections.

Participants will have the opportunity to think through common challenges in a multidisciplinary setting. The goal is to enable change within their own institutions and help develop customised strategies for preservation and use.

For strengthening institutional capacities in different countries, the workshop will include an in-depth module on how to develop integrated training for preservation and use of mixed sound and image collections in other languages.

Note: participants selected for the workshop will be invited to attend the international conference on Unlocking Sound and Image Heritage, 3-4 September 2015.

Working Language : English

Who should apply?

The workshop invites participation from diverse professionals working in institutions with sound and image collections, educational programmes and the field of information technology. Applicants should have at least 5 years of professional experience in audio-visual preservation and/or use. It aims to attract those professionals, who are interested in developing a broader understanding of how different cultural institutions can sustain the preservation and use of mixed sound and image collections. The workshop will be of particular interest to those who are engaged in professional training through formal and non-formal programmes. Former SOIMA course participants engaged in training are especially encouraged to apply

Workshop Team : International team of experts and leading practitioners identified through ICCROM and partners’ professional networks.

How to apply and practical information

Practical info



2 September 2015: Workshop closing ceremony and conference opening at the mim, musical instruments museum
3 September 2015: First conference day and conference dinner (separate registration required)
4 September 2015: Second conference day and closing ceremony


The conference opening ceremony will be hosted at the mim, musical instruments museum
The conference will take place in central Brussels at the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts.
The conference dinner will take place at the restaurant L’Atelier


Conference fee

N.B. payment details are available under registration

Early bird/contributor/former SOIMA participants/student fee:

  • 2 days 150 euro

Normal fee:

  • 1 day 100 euro
  • 2 days 185 euro

Conference dinner: 50 euro 

N.B. Separate registration for the conference dinner is required


More information about Brussels and accomodation possibilities

Conference dinner

Do you want to join the SOIMA 2015 conference dinner on 3 September 2015 @ the restaurant l’Atelier?
Register by filling in this form before 23 August 2015.
The conference dinner includes an aperitif, 1 cold starter, 1 hot meal, dessert, coffee, white and red wines included.
Cost: 50 euro

Attention: your registration will only be valid once we have received the payment of 50 euro to be transferred to KIK-IRPA BEFORE 20 August!

SOIMA conference 2015

Conference registration


The organisation of the SOIMA 2015 International Conference is an opportunity to make contact with institutions, businesses, and local authorities interested in heritage matters, both in Belgium and abroad. The search for partners interested in supporting our event is still continuing and represents an exceptional opportunity to raise awareness of the significance of sound and image heritage. Currently we can count on the support of the following partners:


You can reach us at