ESAT is not an archival facility
Please note: ESAT is not an archival facility at this time, so, sadly, it cannot accept and permanently archive any materials on the arts.
Readers will notice that the term ESAT Archives is on occasion used in some of the entries, but this is done at this time simply to reference any material being used in writing the item. In this case, the term refers to what may at this point be seen as a transient facility for storing materials that have been lent to or donated to the ESAT team for processing (mostly material held in the studies and garages of participating researchers!). However, once processed and the data uploaded, the material is forwarded as a donation to one of the existing cultural archives and libraries, wherever seems appropriate. We are negotiating for, and hoping to obtain, such a permanent dedicated facility for ESAT sometime in the next year or two.
The term "temporary" is significant here, since ESAT is a digital encyclopaedia, i.e. a database of processed information, not an archive of written and/or published material in the conventional sense - digital or otherwise. In view of this, the project does not consciously solicit and/or collect physical materials on the various art forms, nor can it accept donations, except on short-term loans in order to write up the data. ESAT quite simply does not have the physical capacity to store and preserve such artefacts and documents.
However, given the immense concerns of, and actual problems faced by, collectors and researchers with the preservation of valuable materials on the arts in South Africa, the ESAT team will try to advise people and institutions with collections on possible places to house such material.
For the same reason, the project leader and the team members are constantly in consultation with various projects seeking to set up archival facilities (physical and/or digital). Prominent in seeking out such facilities have been a former senior librarian, the late Miriam Terblanche and the researcher and film-maker Amber Fox-Martin, who - along with the rest of the team - were commissioned to put together a comprehensive set of entries on such facilities over the course of 2023-4, to write up as a separate section of the encyclopaedia, for use of researchers, collectors and others.
Another positive option has been our engagement with the staff of the Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (AOI) at the University of Stellenbosch, with which the ESAT project has gone into partnership.
As part of the working relationship, ESAT was offered some interim archival space as part of the AOI's larger archival holdings on music and other art forms in its DOMUS Archive, where the ESAT archival materials could be held till a more formal space is found for the AOI and the ESAT material. The first batch of material was moved from the editor's garage to the AOI on Wednesday 9 August, 2023.
In future therefore, donated material will be accessed (as individual collections listed under the name of the donor) and, once processed and the data uploaded, the various items will be assessed for future preservation, either in the ESAT archives or, if more appropriate, in one of the other existing cultural archives and libraries in South Africa.