In her keynote at the seminar ‘Futureproof’, Dr. Vu Dieu Trung presented on VICAS’ Centre for Cultural Heritage Database as well as the digitisation and promotion of their archives. Since 1997, the Institute has been in charge of the National Target Program on the Preservation of Intangible cultural heritage, with several key activities including researching and making scientific documentaries on the performing arts, rituals, festivals and other cultural activities and crafts of 54 ethnicities in Vietnam; as well as categorising and promoting films, visual documents and reports on the aforementioned researches. The Institute’s dedication is made evident through the scope of its archive: SD-resolution video footage stored in a range of formats – Betacam, DVCam, SVHS, VHS; more than 300 thousand minutes of documentary footage digitised in full HD resolution, more than 71 thousand images from field trips, and 854 scientific research paper (corresponding to 854 forms of intangible cultural heritage).
With such an enormous database, the challenges lie in processes of digitisation and promotion. Although application of technology is encouraged by the Government, digitisation work at the Institute is only in an early phase in a race with time. Dr. Trung shared that many physical copies at the Institute have deteriorated due to preservation conditions; other than that, the outdated analogue technology also makes it more difficult to access documents of these formats, increasing the chance of losing data forever. “Addressing this issue in order to speed up digitisation as much as possible requires time, human resources and budget”, said Dr. Trung. Apart from government funding, the Institute is also supported by its partners, including international and private organisations – the British Council, the International Information and Networking Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO (ICHCAP), and Tuan Chau Group – to strengthen its management, archiving and promotional work in relation to the heritage database. However, a system particularity that hinders the work being carried out is the existence of dual ‘missions’ that the Institute has to fulfill: according to Dr. Vu Dieu Trung, the political mission is placed above all – to support research programmes and heritage renovation of state agencies, before promoting the heritage to the larger public.