Aims, policies, purpose/impetus for project:
This has been a project delivered in the main by freelance workers. It was brought to us as an idea by two radio producers who were inspired by the sound archive created following 9/11 by the Kitchen Sisters in New York. Sonic City aims to give a voice to everyone in Leeds by focusing on the special spaces and places in the city. We hoped that as many people as possible would feel included and have the chance to share their memories. Ultimately we want to create a database which brings the city to life and records history for future generations, at the same time becoming a focus for all oral archives in Leeds.
Key individuals and roles involved
A key lead worker has done most of the recording. He is an expert in radio producing and community work and is currently undertaking an MA in Oral History. Grand Theatre staff helped with the session there.
Paid or voluntary, training in oral history:
Project funded by:
The funding came originally from the budget for the creation of the new City Museum in Leeds from Yorkshire Forward. The project began in 2005 and the funding finished in 2008. Some external funding has been drawn down since then, and we are continuing to look for new money to maintain the project.
Management of project:
Leeds City Council. The website is separately hosted.
Format of interviews: We use Maycom handheld recorders.
How interviewees are selected and located:
In a number of ways. We have targeted community groups, and had recording opportunities at the various venues. For theatres, we ran a term's workshop at the Heydays - a weekly group for older adults at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. As part of Heritage Open Days the Grand Theatre held recording sessions in October 2008. The City Varieties stories have been collected at other sessions not specifically at the theatre itself.
Interview running time: varies, but usually short - just a few minutes.
Copyright in interviews. Assignment rights?:
Interviewees sign a disclaimer giving Sonic City the right to use the recordings on the website and for educational purposes
Location of interview copies. Accessibility to public/format:
On website: Sonic City
Collection contact details/website: Sonic City
Interview transcripts/lists of topics or other content indexes: No
No, but the site is searchable and organised according to place.
Future plans for project/interviews?:
The Hyde Park Picture House cinema, not strictly speaking a theatre but managed by Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House Ltd, will celebrate its centenary in 2014. We are hoping to gain funding for an oral history of the cinema.
The City Varieties Music Hall is about to embark on a £9 m restoration project supported by Heritage Lottery funding. It is hoped to expand the oral history of the Music Hall as part of the heritage learning plan. Further external funding may be sought.
We would like to maintain and expand the whole Sonic City project, depending on budgets and funding.
Materials used for publications, exhibitions, conferences, radio/TV programmes or performances etc or future plans for this?:
Not the elements relating to theatres in Leeds. We would always seek opportunities to use the archive in any way.
Project website: (related) Leeds Grand Theatre
List on a joint (possibly STR) website: No
Join listserv/emailing list/forum: Yes
List of interviewees provided: No
Oral History Survey Pages
Index of Projects
28th April 2009