Regional communities across the State will be able to digitally preserve priceless cultural collections thanks to the efforts of the Nationals in Government.

The Regional Cultural Fund’s investment into 11 projects will make it easier for museum, art and other culturally important collections to be explored and enjoyed. In addition to the 11 projects supported, further funding has been provided to determine a regional strategy for ongoing digitisation as a priority for the NSW Government.

Thanks to the work of NSW Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser, Coffs Harbour City Council will get a share of almost $1.6 million for its Coffs Coast Heritage and Arts Digitisation Project, which he said would receive $510,000.

“With the funding, the council will install a platform enabling the digitisation, hosting and integrated discovery of museum, gallery and library local heritage and arts collections,” Mr Fraser said. “It will also invite public participation in building and sharing knowledge of all forms of cultural heritage and arts, and seek to extend digitisation activities within our community. This is a huge win for Coffs Harbour. We have a rich history, and this investment will not only help us preserve that, but will also allow us to share our stories with a wider, global audience.”

Regional recipients of the funding include Bathurst District Historical Society, which will use funds to digitally preserve 250 large-scale at-risk images from its collection featuring soldiers from the Boer War, World War I, World War II, and local events and life going back a century. Other projects will help preserve Aboriginal and European cultural heritage, digitise newspaper collections and provide employment opportunities.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the statewide program would allow people to more easily access, learn from, and in turn appreciate regional NSW’s cultural assets.

“Important historically-significant collections can be found all throughout the state,” Mr Barilaro said. “I congratulate Coffs Harbour City Council and the 10 other recipients of this funding, who will no doubt make great use of the support.”

Arts Minister Don Harwin said that in addition to the 11 projects supported, further funding had been provided to determine a regional strategy for ongoing digitisation as a priority for the NSW Government.

“I am delighted to say that we are committed to developing a prototype model and a business case for a single sustainable, regional digitisation strategy that will bring state-wide benefits,” Mr Harwin said. “By preserving the past we are enabling opportunities for future generations to explore and enjoy NSW’s rich cultural wealth.”

Digitisation Project Recipients

Albury & District Historical Society Inc., Revisiting the Albury District Crossing Place, Again and Again ($68,877)
This project will enable the digitisation of two sets of microfilmed local newspapers (editions of the Albury Banner from 1881-1896 and the Border Morning Mail 1938-1942) onto the National Library of Australia’s search engine Trove, to help fill some significant historical gaps in Albury’s recorded history.

Bathurst District Historical Society, Digitisation of large photographs ($2000)
Bathurst’s District Historical Society (BDHS) will preserve precious historical images from its extensive collection. Almost 500 images are too large for capture using conventional scanning or photography. Using specialist equipment, the BDHS will begin digitally capturing 250 of the most critically at-risk images for online community access. The 500 oversized images belong to a collection of more than 22,000 held by the BDHS, with material relating to former Prime Minister Ben Chifley, the Boer War, World War I and World War II soldiers plus images from Bathurst Eight Hour processions from 1900-1930s, rural and city life, mining and farming.

Broken Hill City Council, Australia’s first heritage-listed city goes digital ($433,359)
Broken Hill is Australia’s first heritage-listed city and home to diverse collections of national and international significance. A major four-stage digitisation project is underway to enable the public to access, learn about and engage with local treasures. Stage one will see the BHP Billiton Foundation and Broken Hill City Council purchase a sophisticated Content Management System. NSW Government funding will contribute to stage two of the process, enabling the digitisation of collections from the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery and the Albert Kersten Mining and Minerals Museum. The final stages will see digitisation of the Outback Archives and a new interactive website enabling research and education activities.

Coffs Harbour City Council, Coffs Coast Heritage and Arts Digitisation project ($510,000)
Coffs Harbour will install a platform enabling the digitisation, hosting and integrated discovery of museum, gallery and library local heritage and arts collections, while also inviting public participation in building and sharing knowledge of all forms of cultural heritage and arts. The Council will also explore and implement new business models for hosting cultural heritage and arts content and extend digitisation activities within the community, such as local historical societies, schools and commercial enterprises.

Griffith City Council, Creating digital access to Griffith’s Heritage ($48,105)
Digitisation of early documents relating to the development of Griffith and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area will be an important addition to the state’s online heritage. The library has a treasure-trove of original material; however, access is currently limited to in-house research. By digitising the collection, Griffith City Library will provide access to the material through its online catalogue and contribute to the collections of the State Library of NSW and National Library of Australia.

Inverell Shire Council, Providing historical resource discovery and access through the Inverell Library ($3475)
Inverell Library will use a new scanner to digitise its large collection of historical and contemporary resources, including photographic negatives held by the Inverell and District Family History Group, who will partner with the Library in making the collection available online.

Millthorpe & District Historical Society Inc., Digitisation of Collection ($45,883)
Funding will be used by the Historical Society’s museum to fast-track digitisation of its extensive collection of local Aboriginal and European arts, artefacts, historical family records and large photographic collection. Completion of the digitisation project will mean access to the collection by visitors, researchers, society members and the community; enhanced understanding of the collections and item categories, and better location knowledge and promotion of the collection to diverse audiences.

Museums & Galleries of NSW, Collections & Stories, community museums in NSW ($93,750)
Museums & Galleries of NSW will take a state-wide approach to establishing digitisation infrastructure and capacity building for the community museum sector. The project will boost online access to collection data through portals such as Trove, and (depending on findings of an initial planning stage) the creation of a website enabling audiences to discover and enjoy collections and find out about the organisations that house them. Collections & Stories aims to reveal the strength and depth of NSW community-held collections by improving access and increasing significance assessment, documentation and digitisation skills across regional NSW.

Orange City Council, Sharing object stories and community conversations about objects and collections ($71,000)
A regional museum officer will be employed to work with community museums and heritage organisations across Orange, Blayney and Cabonne Councils in documenting and digitising significant objects and collections. Providing a focus for community engagement and public programs around distinctive stories from the region’s villages, museums and historic places is a key aim as well as informing public programs, education initiatives and community storytelling. Building on the partnership with Sydney Living Museums, the project will devise programs and activities to share memories of objects, places and cultural traditions. Social media platforms will be used to record and share memories in local communities and with virtual tourists.

Tenterfield Shire Council, Museum digitisation program ($2457)
The Tenterfield School of Arts Complex tells the life story of Sir Henry Parkes and Tenterfield’s role in the Federation of Australia. Public access to the School’s collections, as well as local community museums will be enhanced by utilising an online collection management system which will enable the museums to store and share their collection information.

Warren Historical Society, Digital scanning & microfilm reader printer ($20,000)
With the only scanner currently 125 km away, Warren Historical Society will purchase a digital scanner that can combine microfilm, microfiche and photographs for storage and printing. Digital storage and distribution will be immensely valuable to locals, particularly the local Aboriginal community wishing to preserve and share family history and heritage.

Digitisation Prototype Project

Museums & Galleries of NSW, Regional digitisation prototype ($296,705)
With support from the NSW Cultural Infrastructure Program Management Office, Museums & Galleries of NSW is leading a project to develop a regional prototype digitisation model. M&GNSW are partnered for the project with Broken Hill City Council and Orange City Council. Outcomes of the prototype model will be used to develop a business case for a regional digitisation strategy.