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Supporting theatre and live art records at risk due to COVID-19

Lucy Powell, Keeper, Theatre Archives

Lucy Powell, Keeper, Theatre Archives University of Bristol Theatre Collection

9 September 2021

A project to identify and rescue significant theatre and live art records at risk is underway at the Theatre Collection.

‌The impact of the pandemic on the performing arts sector has been severe, and there is the possibility of collections being lost if we do not act now to save records to preserve the cultural history and heritage of the industry.  With performance companies under threat and individuals forced to leave the industry, this archive collecting project may be able to intervene and offer a new home to records placed at risk due to COVID-19.

We are looking to find holders of records at risk and let them know how the Theatre Collection can support them in caring for their archives and, where appropriate, offer guidance in finding the best home for them.  An increasing number of archives have been offered to us since the start of the pandemic.  However, we are concerned that there may be records at risk, which haven’t come to attention, from individuals and companies that don’t know about us or other collecting bodies, or are not aware of the research value of their records.

The work also presents an opportunity for us to make our collections more representative of the whole spectrum of theatre activity.  Records will need to fall within the scope of our ‌Collections Development Policy (PDF, 500kB), and we will be sensitive to the possibility of alternative homes for the material.

We are looking to help individuals including but not limited to artists, backstage professionals, designers, directors, photographers, practitioners, producers, and writers, as well as organisations which have been affected by the pandemic and need help with caring for their archives, both digital and analogue.

There is lots of information on our website for individuals and companies looking for help with caring for their records.  Alternatively, please contact Sian Williams, Project Archivist for the Theatre and Live Art Records at Risk project:

This project has been made possible thanks to funding from The National Archives COVID-19 Archive Fund.

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