Community Documentation Workshop

Culture and community ground us in times of uncertainty and unrest. Likewise, our traditions, annual celebrations, and artistic practices reflect our shared cultural identities. They bring us joy and they bring us together. These things we do together reflect who we are, where we come from, and are the products of the worlds we live in. The ability to share these traditions amongst broader communities creates a broader vision of our region and can foster a more democratic culture. Yet sharing these traditions — sometimes very private affairs, oftentimes misrepresented, stereotyped, or exoticized in mass media — can come with risks to the communities and individuals stepping out into our broader cultural landscape.

How do we share our own stories and culture with the wider communities we live with in ways that advance cultural equity? When we are telling other people’s stories, how do we remain accountable to the people sharing their history and culture? How do we collaborate across lines of difference to share stories that reflect the dignity and resilience of our many communities? How do we reclaim our own voices and speak with authority when powerful institutions divide us? The Community Documentation Workshop is for people who want to explore these questions together.

The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes, in partnership with the Chemung County Library District, Chemung County Historical Society, Congregation Kol Ami, Elmira Center for Cultural Advancement, Elmira College, the Islamic Association of the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier Indian Cultural Association, is piloting the Southern Tier Community Documentation Workshop this September. This 14-week 7-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 local community groups to craft 5-7 minute videos about local cultural traditions.

Training topics will include:
  • Basic and intermediate photography and videography using DSLR camera
  • Basic and intermediate video editing in Adobe Premiere Elements
  • What is culture and folklife?
  • Oral history interview training
  • Crafting narratives for video and social media
Time Commitment and availability requirements:

The Community Documentation Workshop will begin with a day-long orientation workshop on Sunday, September 12, and will include a second day-long workshop Sunday, October 17. Bi-weekly meetings will meet on Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm. Beyond that the schedule is flexible, but participants should estimate 5-7 hours a week between September 12 and November 23, and plan on attending one meeting or workshop per week. Meetings will take place in Elmira. The workshop schedule is as follows:

  • Sun. Sept 12, 10am – 4pm
  • Tues. Sept 21, 6pm – 8pm
  • Tues Oct. 5, 6pm – 8pm
  • Sun. Oct. 17, 10am – 4pm
  • Tues. Oct. 26, 6pm – 8pm
  • Tues. Nov. 9, 6pm – 8pm
  • Tues. Nov. 23, 6pm – 8pm
Who should apply?

We are looking for people excited to document local cultures in ways rooted in observation, asking questions, listening and reflection. We are looking for people with experience making media, but formal education is not required. We are looking for people with some experience doing oral history interviews — again, no formal education is 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 members we are working closely with. People of color, working class people and LGBTQ people are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information, please email folkart@earts.org. Deadline to apply is July 16.

Thank you to our funders: