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Text festival earns Bury Art Gallery £40k cash windfall

Press Release   •   Feb 26, 2013 11:31 GMT

Bury Council has been awarded a £40k cash windfall by The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC ) to establish an arts archive within Bury Art Gallery and Archives section.

The AHRC are making a formal announcement of the funding today, Tuesday 26 February. The cash has been awarded to Bury in recognition for its Text Festival Project which began in 2005.

The Text Festival is an internationally recognised event investigating contemporary language art (poetry, text art, sound and media text, live art). It specialises in experiments, new experiences, in performances and exhibitions that mix art forms in groundbreaking combinations that challenge traditional language art boundaries and offer artists a forum for dialogue and exchange of ideas. So far, the festival has featured more than 20 exhibitions, significant public art commissioning, publications and numerous performances.

Organisers of Bury’s Text Festival will join the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at Birkbeck, University of London to use the cash to establish a national Text Archive. Supported by the National Archives Council, the project will archive and document the three Text Festivals so far and extend Bury’s art collection with significant acquisitions and donations from international practitioners and collectors.

In advance of the next Festival in 2014, the Text Archive project has been recognised by the National Archives as national case study for arts archiving. In addition to professional archiving of the existing documentation, sound recordings, original artworks, etc, the Archiving project will expand beyond the Festival’s historic practice engaging with other international centres, practitioners and literary/artistic movements.

In addition to establishing the Text Archive, the project involves two public events underlining the exchange between Bury and Birkbeck: a colloquium held in the Museum in April 2013, and a colloquium and installation entitled “A Report on the Archive to be held in Birkbeck's Forum for the Arts” in early July.

The project has appointed the poet and postdoctoral student Holly Pester from Birkbeck to work with Bury Council’s Archives Service to establish the new resource. Holly commented: "This archive project represents an exciting opportunity in the evolution of innovative text art practices. As a researcher and practitioner I am thrilled to be playing an active role in compiling and curating the archive’s materials and developing a project that contributes to future art practice."

Professor Carol Watts of the Birkbeck Centre for Poetics commented: “This is an outstanding opportunity to explore the creation and communication of a new internationally significant twenty-first-century archive, and to further the generative engagement between the Text Festival and Birkbeck's Centre for Poetics, which first began in 2005. It's an exciting prospect, and for us, involvement in a new kind of practice-orientated research which will have an impact for years to come.”

Tony Trehy, who runs the Text Festival, comments: “We are very pleased that the longstanding and fruitful research exchange between Bury’s Text Festival and the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre at Birkbeck has been supported by the AHRC Cultural Engagement funding. The award recognises the importance of Bury as an international centre.”