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Preserving Performance at DHWEEK 2018

Preserving Performance: Archiving to Curate, Promote and Honor Your Work & Legacy. Presentation at NYC DH Week, February 7, 2018

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Preserving Performance at DHWEEK 2018

  1. 1. Preserving Performance Archiving to Curate, Promote, and Honor Your Work & Legacy DH Week | February 7, 2018 Tanya Elder and Noreen Whysel American Theatre Archive Project
  2. 2. THE “PROBLEM” Artists and theatre companies are skilled at producing and promoting their shows and seasons, but need knowledgeable support to save and curate the records of their work.
  3. 3. WHY ARCHIVE? The American Theatre Archive Project (ATAP) seeks to help artists and theatre companies: • Curate their stories • Honor their legacies • Establish protocols to capture and safeguard their work for posterity • Increase their visibility and attractiveness to patrons and grant funders
  4. 4. WHO ARE WE? ATAP is a collaboration of archivists, dramaturgs, and academics who support theatre makers in saving their work as they make it for the benefit of staff, associated artists, scholars, patrons, and the public.
  5. 5. ARCHIVISTS THINK ABOUT: • Archival evidence and principles • Appraisal and analysis of records • Retention schedules and collection policies • Arrangement and description of materials • Long-term preservation issues • Public access • Staffing and training (So you don’t have to)
  6. 6. ATAP HELPS YOU THINK ABOUT: • How to begin or continue archiving your work • Separating the wheat from the chaff -- what should be saved and what can be discarded? • How production-related materials contribute to legacy • Considering long-term preservation strategies (e.g. keep or donate to a repository?) • Whether and how to make history available to the public
  7. 7. HOW TO BEGIN?
  9. 9. PRODUCTION RECORDS • Production history: Are projects and seasons documented? How? Where? • Scripts and dramaturgy: Where are the script versions, dramaturgical materials, and programs? • Designs: Where are set models, costumes, props? • Photos: Who has production or event images? Who has the rights? How are they maintained? • Electronic files: What file formats are used and where are they stored? • How do all of the above support your mission and goals as artists?
  10. 10. ARCHIVES VS. RECORDS MANAGEMENT ATAP examines: • protocol(s) around retention • Policies and practices that ensure items are kept • Establishing standards for materials to be retained BOTTOM LINE: A clear retention schedule allows artists and theatres to be unafraid to throw things away and to focus on records worth preserving.
  13. 13. SHARING Are there elements of the collection that you would like to make available to the public? • To your audience? • To the community? • To theatre historians/scholars? Would you like to create an online presence with your materials?
  14. 14. SOME BENEFITS OF PUBLIC ACCESS • Enables permanent or pop-up displays of holdings for public enjoyment. • Allows practitioners and researchers to generate new art and scholarship.
  15. 15. Promote your history:
  16. 16. Highlight images from the archives:
  17. 17. List your holdings:
  18. 18. Display your production catalog:
  19. 19. Promote content for sale:
  20. 20. Highlight other featured content:
  21. 21. WHAT ATAP PROVIDES • Introduction to archiving • Survey of records and interviews with artistic collaborators • Assessment of records and recommendations for establishing an archive • Workshop on archival practices • Suggested resources (e.g. grant opportunities, supply sources, consultants, cloud services) BOTTOM LINE: Together, we develop concrete steps to organize your artifacts and records for posterity.
  22. 22. WHAT YOU CAN DO TO GET STARTED: Physical materials: • Archival boxes (banker’s or manuscript size) • Acid-free folders • Mylar or polypropylene sleeves • Pencils Digital storage: • Computer drive • External hard drive • Cloud-based repositories • Photo, sound and video websites • Github for computer code
  23. 23. THE BIG PICTURE – ATAP’S GOALS • To preserve records of current theatrical process and product for future generations. • To leverage your legacy to maintain and promote current and future work. • To promote a better understanding of theatre as a vital element of cultural history. • To encourage scholarly research in contemporary American theatre. • To increase funding for establishing and maintaining theatre archives. • To support collaborations among practitioners, archivists, and scholars.
  24. 24. SELECTED PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) Theatre Library Association (TLA) Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (LMDA) Performing Arts Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Theatre Communications Group (TCG) The Lucille Lortel Foundation Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York
  25. 25. Time for a conversation.