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Records no longer at Risk

Thanks to funding from The National Archives we are working closely with Friction to save materials and records of their groundbreaking arts practice from over three decades.

Friction Arts has been successful in applying for Arts Council funding to redevelop ‘The Edge’, the building where Friction is based in Digbeth, Birmingham, as a retrofitted passive buiding.  The footprint of the building will be doubled eventually, but before work can start in March, everything will need to be cleared from the building.

Potentially this could have risked all Friction Arts materials and records, but we’ve made it an opportunity to document important material digitally, to catalogue, and to make accessible digitally a Friction Arts Collection.  Following the move back to ‘The Edge’ Friction Arts intends to host it’s own repository Archive alongside the digital Archive, publicly available and accessible locally to the communities who own them.

Since 1992 Friction Arts have created socially engaged projects and programmes internationally and have been based in Digbeth at the Edge from 2004.  They take pride their approach of making work that creates a difference to people.

Wholesale Market in 2018, since demolished and became the Smithfield Commonwealth Games location. Formerly the largest Wholesale Market in Europe, the one square mile Smithfield site in Birmingham city centre is currently vacant.

Friction Arts have a culturally significant collection representing and reflecting individuals and communities worked with in Birmingham, including artwork, performance, as well as primary source interviews, photography and film.  It’s collection Includes historically significant events and changes in our city like a series of projects lasting over four years documenting the stories of people working in the old Wholesale Market, now demolished, and other local markets located near Friction Arts.  

As a starting point to document important material digitally, to catalogue, and to make accessible digitally a Friction Arts Collection, so far we’ve worked with staff and volunteers at Friction to put in place policies, an effective archiving system and begin digitising and moving material from it’s current locations to more secure storing.

Unexpected finds – making a start to access valuable records and artifacts in Friction’s Garage

We started with an interview with Lee and Sandra, co-directors of Friction Arts, which helped determine our catalogue structure. As we began to work through material there have been some great finds, and some good listing already partially in place, but the quantity of material and scope of work can be frightening!

Our work continues at ‘The Edge’,Friction’s HQ.  Without support by The National Archives we would lose so much material, and miss an opportunity to build our relationship with cultural groups already poorly represented in City Archives.

Talking Drums festival at the Edge, Digbeth with Friction Arts
Talking Drums Festival, 20-21st May 2023, intended as the last festival for the Edge in it’s current form. The Festival, a partnership with musician Xhosa Cole, included Dance, music, meditation and improvised Jazz to ‘Play the Edge’.