Future compromised

July 13, 2007

Letter to the Arts and Humanities Research Council, copied to The Times Higher

We are writing as members of the "Future Histories of the Moving Image", an Arts and Humanities Research Council- funded research network set up specifically to address the issues of sustainability arising from a number of moving image arts database and digitised collection projects.

Your recent announcement of withdrawal of funding from the Arts and Humanities Data Service is a matter of urgent concern. The announcement was apparently taken without consulting the wider research community and your justification is ill-informed and spurious. The financial imperative that seems to have driven the decision ironically serves only to reveal the inadequacy of the funding that the AHDS has received to date to undertake its considerable range of services essential to the AHRC's aims of conserving research outcomes and making them accessible. We do not believe that an answer to paucity is to cut off funding and pretend the problem does not exist.

We would like to draw your attention to a publicly accessible Prime Minister's petition at http:///petitions.pm.gov.uk/AHDSfunding/  to which 1,000 members of your research community have added their names.

We demand that, as senior representatives of the UK's arts and humanities research community, you seek to rectify the chaotic situation you have brought to pass. We believe it is imperative to calm the unrest you have caused by demonstrating that you value and support long-term, sustained digital resources arising from research.

Steven Ball
University of the Arts, London

Stuart Comer
Tate Modern

William Fowler
British Film Institute National Archive

And six other leading figures in moving images

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