Western Front’s archives are inextricably entwined with our programming. Having taken root from the early efforts of Kate Craig and other Western Front founders who embraced the potential of new technologies to document performance and create independent media art productions, the archives have continued to grow since 1973 and record almost all of Western Front’s initiatives dedicated to the production and presentation of contemporary art. The archives act as our institutional memory and a resource to be reactivated through research, artistic engagement, and public access.
The archives contain nearly 2,000 video tapes and 500 audio recordings on magnetic media; approximately 30 meters of textual and graphic material; performance props and costumes; and original artworks. Distinct from Western Front’s institutional records and documentation, Western Front has acquired the Kate Craig fonds, Hank Bull collection, and the Knights of the Pythias collection.
While our new archives search engine is being prepared, you can browse our archives of past programs at Western Front’s legacy website here.
Western Front’s archives are located at 303 E 8th Ave, Vancouver.
The archives are open by appointment to all researchers on Thursdays and Fridays.
Please contact our archivist, Anna Tidlund, to plan your visit.
In the lead-up to Western Front’s 50th year in 2023, we are pleased to undertake our largest digitization project to date. Through the generous support of Library & Archives Canada’s Documentary Community Heritage Program, Western Front is currently digitizing 1,300+ video tapes to preserve these important records for posterity and to create new opportunities for access. This project is led by archivist Abigail Sebaly and builds upon the archival infrastructure established by Caitlin Jones, Scott Owens, Jana Grazley, Shyla Seller, Kristy Waller, and Anna Tidlund.
With the support of the Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund, Western Front, with developers Whirl-i-gig, have developed a new open source and custom-build CollectiveAccess database to improve the management, preservation and access to, our unique archival collection. The CollectiveAccess database was developed across 2019-21 in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery and the Residential School History and Dialogue Centre, both at the University of British Columbia.
While this new database is now in use within the archives, we are currently reassessing the data from our legacy archive database in order to make the information more accessible on our website via a new archives search engine.
We are continuing this project through the support of a new Canada Council for the Arts’ Digital Strategy Fund grant, in collaboration with VIVO Media Arts Centre and grunt gallery, who are embarking on their own CollectiveAccess custom-builds.