Providence Public Library (PPL) has received a $63,660 grant from the National Archives’ National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The grant, awarded through NHPRC’s Access to Historical Records: Archival Projects funding category, will support PPL’s effort to process and catalog AS220’s extensive organizational records, making them readily available to researchers and the public for the first time.
The Special Collections Department at PPL recently acquired the organizational archives of AS220, a nationally recognized arts organization in Providence, Rhode Island. 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. AS220’s archives encompass thirty years of unduplicated organizational records including the creative output of artists, performers, and musicians who have used their venues to create and showcase their work. Not only are these unique and valuable cultural records not currently being properly preserved to ensure their longevity and continued viability, they are not currently accessible to researchers or the local community in general. The one-year project will result in this important resource being housed in PPL’s Special Collections Department where researchers, patrons, and the public can access it freely during regular library hours.
AS220’s role in distinguishing the City of Providence as the “creative capital” of New England cannot be overstated. Its galleries and performance spaces have hosted internationally known artists, musicians, and performers for over 93,000 visitors a year. It also provides affordable workspaces for a thriving artistic community enabling local artists, musicians, and performers to create, show and sell their work.
According to Kate Wells, Rhode Island Collections Curator, “The privilege of preserving and providing access to the AS220 Collection has long been a dream for Providence Public Library, which has a mission to preserve the city’s cultural history in its Rhode Island Collection. The creative output of AS220 is both a time capsule of Providence history and a testament to AS220’s work to support the city’s artistic spirit and social justice values. ”
The project, expected to total almost $100,000, will also be supported by PPL operational funds and individual donors.
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The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) is the grant-making affiliate of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Established by Congress to promote the preservation and use of America’s documentary heritage, the NHPRC supports a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States. For more information on NHPRC, visit https://www.archives.gov/nhprc/.