The Europeana Sport Generic Services project was proposed in 2019 and received co-funding from CEF Telecom in mid-2020. Among other activities, the project planned to host a series of events across Europe, inviting the public to participate and share their sports stories. Europeana’s previous experience in organizing fundraising days like these has been very enriching, with many people present to share their personal stories, memories and thoughts, and ultimately contribute to the common cultural heritage of Europe.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened to curtail our plans. We weren’t sure if we would be able to organize the events planned as part of the project, or if people would want to attend.
Nevertheless, thanks to the flexibility and adaptability, this year, 10 face-to-face events were able to take place in France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom. Events have taken place in libraries, museums, archives, online, at a sporting event, in a school and in a stadium, and when the public health situation permits.
Ensure event security in person
A priority for all in-person events was the safety of the organizers and attendees. In the first two in-person events held at the “Octavian Goga” County Library in Cluj, Romania, a meeting system was used to minimize the number of people present at any given time. Librarian Anca Docolin said: “Our security preparations included plexiglass screens, masks and gloves, as well as a disinfectant available for everyone. The event was well received by our visitors, who brought in a variety of items from a wide range of sports. ‘
The organizers also used a variety of locations to ensure events could be well run. Instead of inviting an audience to a place, the Michael Culture association organized a fundraising day in September at the Polangis primary school in Joinville-Le-Pont, a suburban town 20 minutes from Paris. Marie Hartmann of Michael Culture explains that this enabled a workflow that ensured the safety of the students and the organizers: “One by one, they presented their story and their object, and came to a classroom for us to photograph them. . “
Invite the public
When it was possible and safe to invite the public to share their sports memories at these events, the experience was rewarding for both the participants and the organizers. In October, the IDRC Ajuntament de Girona hosted an event linked to the history of the city’s rugby club where more than 100 former players and members gathered to share their memories. Organizer David Iglésias said: “It was amazing how interested the rugby players were in preserving their stories. It has become very clear how much people value the work of the archives, as a vital (and accessible) part of city life. ‘
The Hungarian National Archives organized an event in Balatonfüred, alongside a popular sailing race. Senior Archivist Dorottya Szabó said: “This event was an opportunity to bring culture and archives closer to people. With the conversations, the presentation of the archives and the collection of stories related to sport and sailing at Lake Balaton, we were able to reach many people. We received countless positive comments during the event.
EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum combined the organization of a series of events in the summer of 2021 with online interviews with selected contributors. Senior Curator Nathan Mannion said: “We have learned that there is simply no substitute for speaking directly with those who have stories and items to share and that the element of maintenance is essential.”