Collections: live art (The live art archives)

Covering half a kilometre of shelves, the live art archives at the Theatre Collection contain over 1,200 boxes of physical items and 90 terabytes of digital files, including over 3000 audio-visual recordings of live events.

The collections of live art archives are listed below, with many of the artists, companies and organisations represented featuring in Performance Magazine, the National Review of Live Art, and live art magazine.  Around half of the collections have detailed catalogues available to search via our online catalogue (there are around 15,000 ‘live art’ catalogue entries).  The remaining collections have ‘box-lists’ of their contents which are available on request.  The live art archives are supported at the Theatre Collection by a reference library which includes published books and journals on live art.

Everyone is welcome to visit to view items from the collections.  Although not all of our collections are catalogued they may still be accessed in person.  To arrange a visit, or if you have any questions, please contact us.

CollectionDescription
Alastair Snow Archive (AS) Archive of the artist and photographer which contains a wealth of material from his performances, including many photographs and props such as The Guerilla Squad masks and pieces of 'edible art' from the Edible Art Association event in 1981.
Arts Council England Live Art and Performance Archive (ACELAP) Videos and documentation which represent the development of innovative contemporary arts practice during the '80s and '90s in the UK.
Barry Edwards Archive (BE) Archive of the director and theatre maker, Barry Edwards. Edwards is the founder and artistic director of Optik, a theatre company that has performed nationally and internationally since 1981. The archive covers Edwards' career as director of Optik and other theatre companies including Apple Theatre (1968 - 1969) and Ritual Theatre (1971 - 1975). 
Bodies in Flight Archive (BIF) Archive of the contemporary performance company formed in 1989 and closely related to the University of Bristol Department of Theatre.
Crystal Theatre of the Saint Archive (BTC290) Archive of the 1970s alternative theatre company, based in Bristol and Rotterdam.
Digital Performance Archive (DPA) A video and CD-ROM archive, compiled between 1999 and 2000 as part a research project at Nottingham Trent University, which also contains some printed material such as press cuttings and supporting information.
DV8 Archive (DV8) The archive of highly acclaimed performance company led by Lloyd Newson, covering 30 years of touring productions which straddled dance, text, theatre and film.
Franko B Archive (FB)
Archive of the internationally renowned performance artist, which includes material in a wide variety of formats related to his performances, screenings, exhibitions, collaborations, mentoring, books and visual art.
greenroom Archive (GR) Archive of the prestigious Manchester organisation which developed and presented local, national and international performance and closed in 2011. 
Hull Time Based Arts Archive (HTBA)
Archive of Northern England's combined arts development agency and one of Europe's leading commissioners of performance and new technology art which closed in the mid-2000s.
Ian Smith Archive (IS) Archive of the artist, performer, musician, dancer and poet; Zap Club compere, Archaos ringmaster, co-founder of Mischief La-Bas, and longstanding MC of the National Review of Live Art.
The Live Art Archive of David Hughes, incorporating Hybrid magazine, Live Art Listings and liveartmagazine (LAM)
The archive includes printed material, press releases, photographs, correspondence, annotated design proofs, publicity and marketing ephemera, essays, lecture notes and proposals relating to David's career as publishing editor, lecturer and writer.
National Review of Live Art and new moves archives (NRLA)
Primarily a video archive holding footage of performances from the prestigious NRLA festival. As well as video documentation from 1986 to when the NRLA finished in 2010, the collection includes material relating to the new moves... dance festivals. Both festivals were produced by New Moves International Ltd. 
Nottingham Trent University's Performing Arts Digital Research Unit Archive (NTU) Administrative records of the former Performing Arts Digital Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, which includes papers relating to establishment of the Live Art Archives at Nottingham Trent and other related research projects.
P-Form Magazine (PFM) Performance art news magazine, published in Chicago between 1986 and 1999.
Performance Magazine (PM) Performance magazine was a UK-based European cross-artform journal and the key UK Live Art/Performance magazine from the late 1970s through to the early 1990s. Contained within its 66 issues is an unmatched history and account of the development of UK Live Art from that period.
Performance Matters Archive (PMA) Performance Matters (2009 - 2012) was a creative research project rethinking why performance matters through the matter of performance. 
Phil Smith Archive (PS) The archive of Dr Phil Smith, performance-maker, writer, academic researcher and teacher, member of arts collective Wrights & Sites and one half of Crab & Bee, specialising in work around 'walking, site-specificity, mythogeographies, web-walking, somatics and counter-tourism'.
queerupnorth Video Archive (QUN) This archive consists of videos submitted by artists, along with other materials promoting their work, videos recorded by, or on behalf of, queerupnorth, mostly within venues in Manchester during the festival. The rest of the archive is held in Manchester.  
Record of Live Art Practice (RLAP) An archive of over 20,000 records of Live Art/Performance Art, primarily from the UK, from the 1980s to the present.  Mostly paper-based, although it does contain some videos and DVDs, audio-tapes and slides.  Includes full sets of HybridPrimary Sources and LiveArt magazines.  Also includes a set of Liveartwork DVDs and a complete set of Bobby Baker DVDs from her Daily Life series.
Welfare State International Archive (WSI) Archive of the influential company (1968 - 2006) of engineers, musicians, sculptors, performers, poets and pyrotechnicans who developed site-specific performances in landscape, lantern processions, fireshows, community carnivals and participatory festivals.

Other resources

There are many other organisations in the UK that hold materials relating to live art in the UK, notably the Live Art Development Agency Study Room.  Other UK collections that include live art can be found at Queen Mary’s University ArchivesBishopsgate Institute Special Collections and ArchivesArnolfini's archive held at Bristol Archives; the British Library Sound Archives; the Tate Archives; and What’s Welsh for Performance?

What is live art?

Rather than an artform or discipline, the Live Art Development Agency has described live art as a ‘cultural strategy to make space for experimental processes, experiential practices, and the bodies and identities that might otherwise be excluded from traditional contexts….[It] is a way of thinking about what art is, what it can do, and where and how it can be experienced.’

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