This was a proposal we made to Modus Operandi for the 'BBC People' commission, to mark the changes at Broadcasting House. We still regret that they chose the project to auction off all their 'rubbish' then backed out due to timing concerns!
'Collectors' Item' or 'Everything Must Go' (working titles)
BBC Public Art Programme: Broadcasting House Commission
Four Initial Responses to Brief and Site Visit:
The first site visit to BH revealed an incredibly exciting and stimulating environment for a major commission. As artists we have often looked to broadcasting models in our work, and to be invited to respond so directly to a key development in this sphere is great.
However, the scale of the place and of the commission's remit is vast and below we have simply summarised a number of areas of interest and approaches to be discussed by the Public Art group with ourselves.
We suggest one of two approaches to tackling the stated commission, either preceded by an intensive Research & Development period on site at BH. The first leads towards a single 'grand gesture' approach, whereby one theme or idea is developed over several years, gathering momentum with a large audience both inside and outside the BBC.
The second approach is to develop a 'series' of linked, annual, live events, each initiated from a different starting point, and evolving more flexibly over time and circumstance. This could be a series of events over 5 years involving specific audiences from BBC depts. and 'outside' groups such as BBC radio fanclubs.
Indicative Content of Possible Project/s
Everything Must Go: A project where the vast international fanbase and staff of the BBC are invited to be part of the physical demise / alteration of the existing BH. We would act as brokers (over a certain time-scale) for the disposal of 'momentoes' to interested individuals and groups, of any/ every part of the building as it is destroyed or removed - from a piece of radio equipment to a carpet tile or cable. (see the BBC Broadcasting House Development Target Programme - Change Order One document)
This could take the form of an auction, on-line event or car boot sale and could also form a unique record for inclusion in the BBC archive.
Real Time: A project which looks specifically at the planned use of BH as a hub of overwhelmingly live and real-time news coverage, in relation to its earliest existence as a real-time live radio broadcasting location in the 1930's when dramas, for example, were broadcast live -a full circle in a sense. We would explore how changing technology has adjusted the 'speed' of broadcasting and how long-running radio series have their own microhistorical time-scale. This could come to fruition in a range of media, perhaps utilising archive material and live streams.
On This Occasion: For this project we would require access to materials and submissions rejected by the BBC for broadcast - these could of any origin, history or type. (As we don't currently know whether or how these are recorded within the BBC, this may require a public appeal - similar to the recent BBC appeal for lost classic footage- in itself an interesting process.) We would then analyse and work with this material, possibly with BBC collaborators invited to take on a role which contrasts to their regular job, and possibly with the actual authors.
Annual Event: A series of events in tandem with the new building's development. Each could take place in a soon-to-be-made-obsolete room (or even look at already destroyed site such as the 'chapel'). The history of the space and its former occupants would form the basis for the content and style of the live events, perhaps including former BBC employees.
Or, again looking at groups within the BBC and linking them with their audience, the production team of the Archers could take part in an event with the Archers Addicts fanclub. Other areas of attention may include hobbies or specialist interest groups that exist within BBC staff - e.g. amateur dramatics, choirs, horticulture, food etc. and celebrity 'leaders' of these fields who feature on the BBC.
World Service studios & staff
Archive materials and procedures (existing and proposed)
Rejected applications / submissions / recorded material
Detailed building programme and schedule
Access to witness live radio broadcast/s
Discussion with members of the Public Art Panel and other BBC staff.
BBC fanbase internationally and nationally
Possibility of including material in radio schedule/s
Role of 'anchorpeople'
Following on from this we were invited to continue and develop the first idea which became ....
Collector's Item (working title)
A project where the vast international fanbase and staff of the BBC are invited to be part of the physical demise / alteration of the existing BH. We would act as brokers for the disposal of 'momentoes' to interested individuals and groups, of any/ every part of the building as it is destroyed or removed (estimate 500 items) - from a piece of radio equipment to a carpet tile or cable.
Stage A would include the salvaging, initial cataloguing and storage of as much remaining material from BH (excepting structural items) as possible.
Stage B would include detailed research into systems (probably web-based) to collate BH staff's memories / stories relating to artifacts collected; implementation of these systems; thorough cataloguing of collected artifacts; marketing of the project to would-be collectors and the soliciting of bids; allocation of artifacts.
Stage C would include research and implementing a major event to profile the project, such as a pick-up day for collectors.
Stage A - Research & Development
To halt the disposal of all remaining artifacts from as many BH rooms, offices & studios as possible.
To identify and remove these artifacts.
To conduct an initial cataloguing of the provenance of these objects.
To locate appropriate storage for the objects and facilitate their removal.
To raise awareness of the project among BH staff to encourage involvement.
Stage B - Production Phase 1 -
Timescale: late Oct. 02 (research only) & Jan 03 - May 03 (production)
To research and implement appropriate systems (e.g. website) for collating and publishing the stories/ memories obtained from BH staff.
To fully catalogue and record each stored object retained from BH and publish this information with the above.
To research and identify marketing & awareness-raising opportunities for the project both internal to the BBC (national and international) and via external media & cultural networks, with the aim of attracting the largest possible number and diversity of project participants.
To implement this marketing strategy to attract would-be collectors to the project and solicit 'bids' for artifacts, using BBC radio and other media.
To research possible strategies to allocate the artifacts to 'bidders' and finalise.
To document the project thoroughly and produce a web archive and radio programme for BBC broadcast.
Stage C - Production Phase 2 -
Timescale: May 03 - June 03
To research and generate an engaging live event (held at BBC or elsewhere) to dispatch a number of the artifacts to their new owners.
Postscript: We can still get into a 'nous regrettons' situation over this lost opportunity as we were so excited about working at Broadcasting House ...