In my work with Sarah Baker we’ve been sharing examples of DIY & DIT popular music heritage and archival preservation in the physical and online environment. As part of this, I came across Sheryl Davis a volunteer practitioner and scholar in America. Sheryl is working in a really interesting space in the popular music heritage field, the preservation and re-imagining of musics built environment.
Sheryl’s M.A. final project was titled “State of Rock 2012: A Current Look at the Built Heritage of Rock ‘n’ Roll in 1950s America.” which she says ‘created a landscape for studying the collective built environment that cultivated and witnessed rock and roll’s development in the 1950s. In addition to identifying and documenting these places the purpose was also to survey past or current preservation activity and to provide a needs assessment for preservation support (potential consulting opportunities for myself after graduation.) To my knowledge, this is an entirely new and one-of-a-kind effort in the U.S. preservation movement’.
Elvis at Circle G
After graduating, Sheryl has started working in the field of popular music DIY preservation and is currently working on a project that seeks to preserve, maintain and restore Elvis Presley’s Circle G Foundation in order that it joins Graceland and Tupelo as sites of Presley heritage.
To aid her in the task of getting to Horn Lake where Circle G is situated and to stay there to undertake field research, Sheryl has created a crowdfunding page
to “complete a site visit to Elvis Presley’s endangered Circle G Ranch and review the Circle G Foundation’s
documentation and research efforts”. When I looked last, Sheryl had surpassed her original target of $800 and now stood at the sum of $1307 donated by 27 different people, often accompanied with comments such as ‘Thank you for doing this on behalf of the Circle G Foundation, Sheryl. I hope you can raise the money you need in time’.
Whilst being a great result for Sheryl, I’m intrigued as to whether similar approaches to preserving and celebrating popular music heritage would work in an European setting. The USA has a long (if you can count 50 years as long) tradition of celebrating their popular culture whether that be in film, literature or as in this case, music. Why is this? Would a crowdsourcing appeal work to save say, the home of Ozzy Osbourne in Birmingham, or the 100 Club in London? Or could this be a model for museums to purchase items of popular music culture or ultimately be an approach for the creation and sustainability of DIY museums and archives? Or can I move from a model of a crowd sourced online archive to a crowdfunded one?
Whilst Sheryl’s crowdfunding campaign was for an individual goal, albeit to enable her to work with members of the Circle G Foundation, can we align crowdfunding activities to the principles of Do It Yourself and Do It Together with communities of interests that are centered around popular music and its histories and heritage?