Digital Heritage Collection is a pilot to build a small digital collection of heritage assets, both tangible and intangible, of diverse groups who have participated in the Heritage of Future Past project over the past four years. These groups include various ethnic communities of the Central Highlands, such as the Bahnar, Ede, and Jrai; Chăm communities in the South Central Coast; and the communities of artists and audiences of Southern performing arts, such as Cải lương, Hát bội, and other Diễn xướng Nam bộ formsof the Mekong Delta, mainly in Hồ Chí Minh City.
The objective of the Digital Heritage Collection is two-fold: (i) create an opportunity where local communities directly engage with, contribute to and benefit from the safeguarding of their cultural heritage; and (ii) ensure that valuable living cultural heritage assets of diverse communities, particularly those at risk of disappearing, as well as the stories, communities and people behind these heritage assets, are authentically recorded and creatively presented in digital forms, which can be shared amongst these communities and beyond.
The activity was carried out as a collaborative process involving three main groups. The first group were community members, who are heritage bearers, including practitioners, artisans, craftspeople, spiritual leaders, keepers of stories and legends, illustrators, singers, dancers, performers, musicians, chanters, writers, poets, philosophers, seeds keepers, and etc. In response to a call-out by Heritage of Future Past, they nominated heritage assets and contributed to the process of digitising heritage objects and practices, to form the main body of this digital heritage collection. The second group was the technical team who were mainly responsible for the digitisation of the heritage objects and practices, in forms of text (stories) and visual (videos, photographs). The third group was the advisory group consisting of locally based cultural professionals and researchers, who advised on local cultural heritage aspects, and two UK-based and one Hanoi-based heritage professionals, who advised on the overall presentation of the collection, as well as guidance and ethnical principles for users of the collection.
The digitisation took place over the course of two months during February and March 2022 in Gia Lai, Ninh Thuận, Kon Tum, and Hồ Chí Minh City. The collection was completed with 17 heritage digital assets as described below.