The Special Collections Department at Providence Public Library (PPL) recently acquired the organizational archives of AS220, a nationally recognized arts organization in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1985, AS220 is credited as a national model for urban revitalization and in its advocacy for the role of artists and art practice within community development.
“The archives of AS220 are a significant addition to the Library’s special collections and enrich existing materials that document the creative and cultural history of Providence,” said Jack Martin, PPL Executive Director. “PPL is proud to preserve and provide access to the records of this important organization.”
“AS220 is thrilled that Providence Public Library has been interested in acquiring, preserving and providing public access to our archives,” said David Dvorchak, Communications Director for AS220. “This collection contains a 32-year history, not only of our organization, but a record of how downtown Providence became the thriving hub of arts and culture in Rhode Island that it is today.”
The organizational archives of AS220 encompass over 30 years of organizational records, including the creative output of artists, performers and musicians who have used their venues to create and showcase their work. The initial donation to PPL includes over 70 linear feet of records representing a wide variety of types and formats — such as planning documents, building plans, press releases and promotional posters, menus, publications and reports, artist applications, booking records for events, photographs, recordings of musical performances, recordings of a public access television show, and original artwork. Included is over 700 gigabytes of digitized files created to document the history of the organization.
Specific items of interest include:
Day planners with handwritten notes by AS220 founder Umberto Crenca documenting the day-to-day activities of the organization.
Audio recordings of music performances at AS220 by musicians of local and national importance, including Lightning Bolt, Silver Apples and Deer Tick.
Documentation of visual and performance art at AS220 by artists, including Guillermo Gómez-Peňa, Viola Davis, Shepard Fairey, Brian Chippendale and Genesis P. Orridge.
“The nature of AS220 as an organization exemplifies the importance of this collection, which will provide researchers an opportunity to understand and examine late 20th century cultural history in myriad ways includin the role of arts organizations in creating cultural and community conversations and in urban development. The collection documents creative voices especially of those who are often under-documented including LGBTQ, the economically and politically disenfranchised, people of color, and youth,” said Kate Wells, Curator of Rhode Island Collections at PPL.
PPL encourages the use of its special collections by the general public, creative community and scholars.
The new archival material will take up to two years to process and make fully accessible to researchers. Materials from this collection will be added to www.provlibdigital.org during that period.