On 25 January we packed a room with more than 40 people at the Irish Architectural Archive for a consultation event designed to consider what the 100 Archive is, where it’s headed and how it should get there. Here’s a summary of the conversation:
Where should the 100 Archive be in five years’ time, and why should it be there?
The 100 Archive certainly should exist in five years’ time as it’s valuable, accessible and diverse. That said, more could be done in terms of diversifying what gets archived and who submits, including making the 100 less Dublin-centric, making it more relevant to larger design companies, making it less arts/culture heavy, ensuring it shows more than just ‘traditional’ graphic design, engaging with and platforming younger designers and archiving work pre-2010 (or at least explaining that Irish graphic design didn’t start in 2010). As visual communication broadens in its outputs and impact, the 100 Archive should show that and lead the discussion around it.
We should be engaging with an audience beyond the design community and communicating what graphic design (and the 100 Archive) is and could be, in a deep and critical way, not just as a showcase of pretty work. At the same time, we should remain rooted in the community, offering events and activities that keep the 100 connected to the community and the community connected to itself.
In terms of the annual selections, we should ensure that selection for the 100 Archive becomes a recognised mark of quality, and that the building blocks of the 100 - individual designer and individual project - remain at the heart of the project.
What activity should the 100 Archive undertake / maintain in order to get there?
We should continue to write and edit articles about all aspects of our industry, but there should be more emphasis placed on critical and discursive content, which should connect to the work in the archive selections and potentially highlight ‘behind the scenes’ aspects of the projects and the people involved. We should encourage writing from designers and non-designers alike. Our articles should be less ‘Creative Review/It’s Nice That’ and more ‘Eye Magazine’…
We should continue creating annual archives, but should expand on the image-led model to one which communicates process and impact. We should find ways to include design effectiveness and present a ‘warts and all’ view of design projects and outcomes.
We should deliver more data and analysis of community activity (profiles, insights, trends) that would prove useful for community, clients and the public. The site should include resources, standards and guides for within and outside the community.
We should consider embarking on/commissioning projects of social impact, utilising the skills within the community to make a positive impact in the wider world.
We should consider lobbying at government level for the good of the community and for increased recognition and support of design.
We should enable the site to be a greater resource for the community with features such as a jobs board or links/advice on third parties such as photographers, printers, copywriters, finishers, bookbinders, programmers...
We should increase our real-world activity through discursive events, exhibitions and/or publications which deepen understanding of the Archive and the wider industry. And our real-world activity should extend beyond Dublin, with a touring programme or events. We should consider engagement with second and third level education.
We should work with partner organisations here in Ireland (like our recent partnership with the National Library of Ireland) and overseas, connecting our activity to the wider world and potentially bringing the 100 Archive to other countries.
How do we achieve these goals in terms of financing?
We will provide more transparent information about our finances. It was clear at the event that nobody but the steering committee knew that, in fact, the 100 Archive is in a difficult financial position and cannot sustain its current activity with its current financing model.
Some of the suggested opportunities for consideration:
— if this is a ‘new’ model for archiving, can we find a ‘new’ way of financing?
— if this is of public benefit, should it be fully publicly funded?
— should different streams of activity be funded in different ways? (such as a publicly funded archive, community funded activity and sponsored articles...)
— crowdfunding for particular projects (for example, a publication)
— a Patreon-type model for regular activity
— a tiered Supporter/Friends scheme (perhaps prompted on the site like the Guardian or Wikipedia)
— paid associate/supplier/institute profiles
— sponsorship, either from within or outside the design industry
— seek funding through the Social Innovation Fund, the Ireland Funds, Enterprise Ireland...
— develop Design Trails in association with Fáilte Ireland
— licence the 100 Archive mechanism/platform to communities in other countries
— offer workshops/classes/design camps that are led by volunteers but paid for by attendees
— strands of content sponsored by relevant organisations (for example, a series on stamps sponsored by An Post, or work related to tourism sponsored by Fáilte Ireland)
— ‘Premium Case Studies’ allowing designers or studios to pay to create an expanded client-facing version of a project submission
— paid-for talks series
— find a rich graphic designer to philanthropise
— creative sale/merchandise
In terms of subscriptions, it’s worth noting that depending on who you ask, the current subscription/credits model is too cheap, too expensive, too varied, not varied enough, should be a flat fee, should be tiered…
How do we achieve these goals in terms of human resources?
As evidenced by the evening itself, there is significant goodwill in the community towards the 100 Archive, with a decent number of people willing to come and share time, energy and expertise. We should have an ‘open call’ section on the website or through another channel (such as Slack) which invites people to contribute in particular ways or to complete certain tasks as needed. Or perhaps a designated weekend where the community comes together to make 100 Archive things happen. Or perhaps designers could go on a ‘secondment’ to the 100 Archive for a period of time (or for a short but regular chunk of time) in order to get things done.
We should engage an archivist and a professional fundraiser. We should work more closely with academia and design schools: students researching and writing content as well as capitalising on visiting lecturers and encouraging them to contribute an their impartial external perspective on our industry. We should collaborate with existing design organisations, including ICAD, the IDI and OFFSET, where appropriate.
Phew! So after all that discussion, where does that leave us? First off, from here on in we will be more transparent about our financing. We realise we can’t ask you to increase your financial support of the organisation without explaining why, so you can expect a follow up article here outlining where we’re at financially and how it’s been for the past few years, along with downloadable financial statements.
Further to financing, we are proposing a new tiered Friends/Supporter scheme to run alongside our ‘Subscribe to submit’ model. No more changes to subscription or credits pricing, and if that’s all you want to pay us in return for submitting your work each year, that’s fine.
But if you would like to support the 100 Archive’s activity beyond the creation of the annual archive selection - that means the articles, future events and ultimately the creation of past archives - you can do so by becoming a Friend or Supporter. This also means those who don’t submit work to the 100 Archive, but like what we do, can weigh in behind us too. More details soon…
We will be redrafting our 2018-2023 strategy with all of the feedback we received both at the event and via email in the coming months. It will be circulated to all those who participated in the process for final comment, then finalised and published here.
And lastly, given the overwhelming show of support so far, and the many offers of support for the future, we’re asking you to get in touch with us if you’d like to put your energy towards the 100 Archive with regard to:
We will put together four small working groups to make further plans with regard to each of these core activities and get you working with us on each.
Thanks once again for your insights and enthusiasm: it was extremely reassuring and encouraging at this stage of the 100 Archive project and we look forward to working with you in the coming months.