When we launched our first ever TWA Digitisation Grant this year we had no idea what a huge response we would receive.
We knew that lack of digitisation funding was one of the major challenges preventing archives, museums, galleries and special collections libraries from digitising their collections and making them more accessible.
And although we have been helping GLAM institutions to find funding through our funding sources guide for almost two years now, in 2016 we wanted to go one step further and actually contribute funds ourselves to support two deserving UK heritage digitisation projects.
So after receiving an avalanche of positive feedback for making the Grants available, over 90 applications (whittled down to a shortlist of just 15), and a week of deliberation by our panel of independent judges - the day has arrived to announce the winners…
A word from our Judges
Paul Sugden – Senior digitisation consultant, TownsWeb Archiving:
“The consistently high standard of applications made selecting the most deserving projects to shortlist an almost impractical task. So much so in fact that despite aiming for a shortlist of ten applicants, we found it impossible to choose less than fifteen to take forward without doing one of the projects a disservice!”
John Chambers – Chief executive, Archives & Records Association
“I was surprised by the range and quality of the applications. From community groups to national institutions the breadth of material needing digitisation was truly represented and demonstrated what many of us know already - there is an urgent need to properly fund digitisation before material becomes inaccessible.
Thank you to TWA for putting up a fund, without any catches, that is a step towards meeting the need.”
Claire Adler – Heritage consultant & HLF expert advisor
“I haven’t had to make such a difficult decision in a long time! The applications were so broad in terms of the types of organisations and collections that it was very difficult to judge them against each other. I ended up with four very different projects to decide between. Each of them would have had impact on their local/ national communities and could have made significant differences to how the organisations are seen.”
The TWA Digitisation Grant 2016 winners
Secondary Grant winner - £1000: Blackpool Culture & Communities
Project: High Flying Stars: Digitising the Tower Circus Posters
Applicant: Caroline Hall
The winner of our Secondary Digitisation Grant for £1000, as chosen by our judges, was Blackpool Culture & Communities.
This exciting project is based around the Circus collection within the Blackpool Tower archive. High Flying Stars will contribute to the development and opening up of the Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens archive for access, research and display.
The Circus collection includes posters, photographs and programmes. This project will focus on the digitisation of approx. 300 posters of the Blackpool Tower Circus dating from its earliest time in 1894.
This digital resource will have multiple applications over the next 3-5 years. It will provide wider access opportunities for schools and the public. Secondly it will provide research opportunities and support the development of displays for the Blackpool Museum project. Finally it will provide resources for the 250 anniversary of circus and support our engagement with the circus community to capture their experiences and stories.
Caroline Hall, lead applicant and Heritage Collections Manager at Blackpool Culture said:
"Thank you so much for Towns Web award of £1000. This is the first grant this archive has received and along with the commitment of some great volunteers is the start of its future development increasing access and use of these incredible resources. This will allow us to share the great history and heritage of circus that exists in Blackpool but it will also help us build activity for the 250th anniversary of circus in 2018 and contribute to the development of Blackpool’s museum. This investment is a first small step that will have great impact on people’s awareness and understanding of circus in Blackpool."
Primary Grant winner - £4000: Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum
Project: Regimental Museum Redevelopment
Applicant: Robert Layden
Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders Regimental (ASHR) Museum is embarking on a major 3 year redevelopment and digitisation is a critical element to enabling the museum to achieve its aim of perpetuating the memory of the Regiment.
The collection includes photographs, diaries, regimental magazines, and personal papers as well as a substantial collection of military artefacts, many of which are currently inaccessible to visitors – whether actual or virtual. ASHR Museums aim is to provide central documentation and global availability of the collection.
The funds will be used to develop the strategy for this digitisation project, engaging consultancy to define the archives digitisation strategy and the resources needed to take this forward to project delivery. The project will include scanning and online publishing, transcription of metadata, as well as metadata capture via OCR.
After being informed that ASHR Museum had won the Primary Grant, Carol Miller – Capital Appeal Manager said:
“I’m on a complete high - especially considering the number of applicants for the award and the amount of passion that our team all have for our Museum. We (The Argylls) know of its relevance and importance but a real joy to know that the judges were able to glean that from our application.
When planning our 3-year Redevelopment Project, we've always acknowledged that management and care of the collection is imperative to providing a lasting legacy of The Argyll story - and digitisation is one of the most important elements of that strand.
So this award has provided us with the starting block for the magnet that will draw visitors (physical and virtual) of all ages, from all corners of the world, to our Museum.”
Congratulations to our winners
We would like to share massive congratulations with both winners of the TWA Digitisation Grant this year. They beat off a lot of strong competition and are both fascinating projects that we can’t wait to see come to fruition.
Congratulations also to all of the other institutions that applied and that were shortlisted. If your organisation applied this year and wasn’t successful, or if you didn’t have time to apply for this year’s Grant, read on below…
TWA Digitisation Grant 2017
As the response from the community has been so positive and because there were so many excellent projects that we weren’t able to fund this year, we plan to run the grant again next year.
The TWA Digitisation Grant 2017 will launch in May-June next year. To receive news and information about the 2017 Grant as soon as it is available subscribe to our email updates.