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August 2012 l 05

news ITALY Unique Italian audio archive axed

The government’s closure of the 80-year-old ICBSA has provoked widespread protests, writes Mike Clark

SCHOLARS, ARTISTS and politicians are up in arms in Italy, throughout Europe and further afield, and thousands of signatures have been gathered in a few days for an online petition protesting against the Italian government’s decision to axe a unique national archive of historical recordings. With a few lines in the 90-page

decree-law (bill) 95 of 6 July 2012 (“Urgent provisions for the revision of public spending without variation to services provided to citizens”), the government passed a bill suppressing the Central Institute for Audio and AV Assets (ICBSA), previously known as the Discoteca di Stato (founded in 1928), which has an archive of recordings of inestimable value, dating back to late 19th century wax cylinders. Giving her opinion on the

government’s drastic, highly criticised measure, Barbara Scaramucci, director of Rai Teche, the Italian state broadcaster’s huge AV archives, says: “I think that this operation is a mistake – not because we shouldn’t carry out our spending review, but cuts should be made bearing in mind that culture is not something that can be axed at random, but a heritage of humanity. Other countries

UNITED KINGDOM Get social with SoundPRO2012 By Erica Basnicki

AMPS, APRS and IPS have jointly announced that the fourth annual SoundPRO2012 expo will be held in the Grand Ballroom of Pinewood Studios on 18 September 2012. The event is open to anyone working or interested in the professional audio industries. Other than the expo, the day’s events include a hog roast (with

vegetarian option), bar, a presentation by industry veteran Dennis Weinreich, and “a fascinating and intriguing surprise finale”. Pinewood’s Ian Sands commented: “There is nothing sophisticated about the expo, but the companies and representatives appreciate the less pressured opportunity to meet and talk, and demonstrate directly to their customers,

The expo offers a more intimate way to meet clients... and carve lunch!

preserve and exploit even small cultural things, whereas here we go from letting the Pompeii ruins collapse to closing the ICBSA. I think that this step is wrong – even from an economic point of view –as the cost of the Institute oscillates between €300,000 and €400,000 per year and I’ve never seen excessive staff or unnecessary spending at any of the numerous events we have organised jointly with the institute.” For years, the institute has carried out on-going digitalisation of the older part of its 500,000 recordings, which are preserved in a 600sqm

Auditorium designed by Dino D’Ambrosio at the ICBSA, which has hosted listening sessions of rare recordings, now under threat

“Other countries preserve and exploit even small cultural things, whereas here we go from letting the

Pompeii ruins collapse to closing the ICBSA” Barbara Scaramucci, Rai Teche

archive with a carefully monitored and controlled atmosphere. The ICBSA also has an impressive valuable collection of audio reproduction equipment (approximately 500 units, dating from the late 19th

century to the 1950s). Called in 10 years ago by the

director to rebuild the institute’s auditorium, studio designer Dino D’Ambrosio managed to combine the room’s marvellous Venetian mosaic floor and the

beautiful, but “acoustically terrible” vaulted ceiling with leading-edge acoustic treatment and audio hardware. Through the years, the auditorium has hosted listening sessions featuring extremely rare recordings (not only music, theatre and poetry, but kings, popes and politicians), as well as high-profile events such as Rome Calling, the two-day audio seminar organised in 2011 by the AES, with speakers of the calibre of Bob Katz, George Massenburg and ORF’s Florian Camerer. D’Ambrosio adds: “I think that the suppression of any structure that is the historical memory of the birth and cultural growth of a

nation, whether it’s dedicated to music, painting or literature, is a demonstration of a process of cultural brutalisation on such a scale that it must arouse great concern for our future. Culture is necessary for growth, internationality and competition and a country without culture is a country without a future.” The widespread protests

following the publication of the bill have resulted in a series of amendments being presented by Senators on the government’s cultural commission. At press time, news of a reprieve for this invaluable resource may still be a possibility. n

especially after their intense times at IBC and PLASA!” Exhibitors booked for SoundPRO2012 so far include Colin Broad Electronics, Rycote, HHB, Focusrite, DACS-Audio, Audio Ltd, Audio Wireless, Olympus and Veale Associates, with many more expected. Exhibitors can book and pay for space (a simple dressed table without power) online at the address below. Tickets for individual

attendance cost £20 (€25), and can be purchased on the events’ website. n

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