BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF — "I believe that a museum that is publicly funded, is meant to make our lives better," said Robert Iantorno, Curator of the South Grey Museum in Flesherton. "We should learn from things that happened before," he added. That is the concept behind a project to record and disseminate the wisdom of our local seniors during this time of global pandemic.
It is called The [re]Call Project and it already has been approved to receive $10,000 in COVID-19 emergency support funding. The money was secured through a grant available to Canadian cultural, heritage and sport organizations. The $500 million Emergency Support Fund provides additional temporary relief to support cultural, heritage and sport organizations and help them plan for the future. A product of the Canadian Heritage branch of the federal government, the Fund was designed to help maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose viability has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iantorno made the announcement in a report to Grey Highlands Council made on September 16. The presentation was met with praise from Councillors for the project initiative and the work that the Curator has accomplished, keeping awareness for the museum during a very socially-restrictive summer. 'Museum Rob,' (as he has come to be known) along with the Peace Committee (a group of Grey Highlanders that come together “to delight, to inform, and to promote Peace in Grey Highlands”) have been active on Instagram, publishing short video stories about our local history, gaining followers and keeping us entertained.
"It all began when I started calling local seniors to see how they were doing during the pandemic," said Iantorno who described how many of these people seemed disconnected from the technological world in which we live. "Many of them have no computer access and are the last of that disconnected generation," he explained. But what he found out was a little surprising to him. "They were all getting on just fine," he said. "...picking up groceries and checking in on each other to make sure friends and family were alright."
With help from the Peace Committee, South Grey Museum posted some of the quotes from seniors that "Museum Rob' had collected.
Realizing that we were living in a historic moment, 'Museum Rob' sprung into action and had the idea to record these people for posterity. "Artefacts don't talk," he said. "You can't pick up the nuance of an object," he added. That's why he felt the need to preserve and disseminate the wisdom he was hearing from people who had lived through tough times before and survived. "Recent events have accelerated the generational divide and truncated our older generation's relevance." Iantorno hopes that this project will aim to re-establish that relevance.
Be kind. Appreciate the little things. Make the best of what you've got. These were just a few of the simple, yet wise little nuggets of advice that Iantorno wanted to turn into a narrative, and the concept of a podcast series came into view. Although the exact length and format of the audiocast is to be determined, Iantorno hopes that it would consist of 10-or-so episodes and be released monthly in 2021.
Toward that end, the museum will be putting out a request-for-proposal (rfp) sometime in October to choose a production company that will edit the raw audio files and package them into podcast format for public consumption. While funding for this project limits its length and scope, Iantorno would love to see a museum podcast continue long-term.
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