Community Documentation Workshop 2023

Community Documentation Workshop graphic.

The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes invites you to apply to the second Southern Tier Community Documentation Workshop Series to be held from September 23 to December 14, 2023. Applications are now open for ages from 9th grade to adult until Tuesday, September 5 at 9am.  

This year’s series is presented in partnership with the  Ancient Voices MediaChemung County Library District MakerSpace, Chemung County Historical Society, Elmira College, Food for the Spirit, the Islamic Association of the Finger Lakes, and United Steel Workers Local 1000. This 8-session workshop series provides community members with hands-on training in cultural documentation. Participants will build skills in oral history documentation and digital video production. Participants will work collaboratively with local folklorists, anthropologists, and community groups to craft 5-7 minute videos about local cultural traditions.

Culture & Community

Traditions, annual celebrations, and artistic practices reflect our shared cultural identities. They bring us joy and bring us together. These things we do together express who we are, where we come from, and are the products of the worlds in which we live. Culture and community also ground us in times of uncertainty and unrest. Sharing these traditions creates a broader vision of where we live and can foster a more democratic community. Yet sharing these traditions – sometimes very private affairs, often misrepresented, stereotyped, or exoticized in mass media – can come with risks for the communities and individuals sharing their cultural identities and traditions more broadly.

When we tell stories that are not our own, how do we remain accountable to the people sharing their stories with us? How do we collaborate across lines of difference to share stories reflecting the dignity and resilience of our communities? How do we reclaim our own voices and speak with authority when powerful institutions seek to divide us? The Southern Tier Community Documentation Workshop is for people who want to answer those questions together.

Training Topics Will Include:

Images of Community Documentation participants learning about DSLR cameras.

  • Learning about local cultural traditions and folklife
  • Oral history interview training
  • Basic and intermediate photography and videography using DSLR cameras
  • Basic and intermediate video editing in Adobe Premiere Elements
  • Crafting narratives for video and social media

Time Commitment & Availability Requirements:

The Community Documentation Workshop will begin with a day-long orientation workshop on Saturday, September 23, 2023. A second day-long workshop will be on Sunday, November 5. Bi-weekly meetings will meet on Monday and Thursday evenings from 6–8pm. The complete schedule is as follows.

Image of Community Documentation participant being instructed on how to use Adobe Premiere Elements.

  • Workshop 1: Saturday, September 23, 10am–4pm
  • Workshop 2: Monday, September 25 OR Thursday, September 28, 6–8pm
  • Workshop 3: Monday, October 2 OR Thursday, October 5, 6–8pm
  • Workshop 4: Thursday, October 19, 6–8pm
  • Workshop 5: Sunday, November 5, 10am–4pm
  • Workshop 6: Thursday, November 16, 6–8pm
  • Workshop 7: Thursday, November 30, 6–8pm
  • Workshop 8: Thursday, December 14, 6–8pm

This schedule is flexible, but participants should estimate 5–7 hours a week between September 23 and December 14. 

Who should apply?

Image of people standing at the edge of the Chemung River as part of a Jewish ceremony. Still taken from Congregation Kol Ami's video on Jewish Life in Elmira.

We are looking for people excited to document local cultures in ways rooted in observation, asking questions, listening, and reflection. People with experience in making media is a plus, but formal education is not required. We are also looking for people with some experience doing oral history interviews. Again, formal education is not required. Participants should be able to work as part of a team and enjoy collaborating. Participants should respect and empower the experiences, perspectives, and stories of the community organizations we are working closely with. People of color, working-class people, and LGBTQ+ people are strongly encouraged to apply. Meetings will take place in Elmira and virtually.

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