November 10, 2012

NYCO Aims...


NYCO's former home at Lincoln Center



It's just after midnight as I write this post after reading the news below from ArtsBeat- NYTimes blog that happens to one that I follow in the right hand column. The article appeared late Friday afternoon.

City Opera Aims to Salvage Archive Damaged by Storm
By Daniel J. Wakin 
New York City Opera’s music library was “totally ruined” by flooding from Hurricane Sandy, but the company’s archival material, going back 60 years, can be salvaged, a spokeswoman said on Friday. Water filled the basement of the Lower Manhattan building, 75 Broad St., where the company rents offices and storage space, last week. 
Workers had removed about half of the material — consisting of recorded matter, programs, photographs and other items — to higher floors before the storm hit, said the spokeswoman, Risa B. Heller. George Steel, the company’s general manager and artistic director, worked hard to save the material, she said, even operating the freight elevator himself. “Half of our stuff was in that water,” she said. “The minute we learned of that, George contacted conservation experts.” Mr. Steel did not return a message left with the spokeswoman on Friday. 
The materials in the basement were retrieved Thursday or Friday, Ms. Heller said, and would be treated and restored by Rapid Refile, a document recovery firm based in Allentown, Pa. 
“We’re working with various libraries to find a permanent home for those materials,” she said. Ms. Heller said the company’s library of orchestra parts for an undetermined number of operas could be replaced at a reasonable price, although years of bowings and other performance indications would cost more. 
The “historic value of our old materials cannot be usefully calculated, but it is a very sad loss,” she said in a later e-mail. Other non-archival material like payroll records and administrative files were also destroyed, she said. City Opera’s administration took up residence at 75 Broad St. after the company moved out of its Lincoln Center home, the David H. Koch Theater, last season.

From the little that can be gleaned from the article, it seems that some - but not all - boxes containing archive material  were removed from the basement, while those containing  administrative records and music library materials were not. It also seems that a decision was made to cut losses and expenses by only sending archival material to be 'salvaged'. After all, how is it that drowned library materials and administrative records cannot be salvaged but archive materials can?

It's great that NYCO is now looking for a permanent home for what remains of its archive. I just hope it's not a little too late. Making good on its intention, however, would be a big step in the right direction.

One last point: the "historic value" of NYCO's archive cannot be "usefully calculated" because it was never inventoried and catalogued. Those who have basic home-owner insurance know the important of that. 

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