Your ideas

We have gathered a range of useful resources together to help you look after records and archives of the arts:

  • if you think that there is something missing
  • if you need further advice
  • if you have information on archives of the arts or creative re-use of archives that you would like to share

Please contact us:


Presentations and documents from archiving the arts events are available online.


Basic guides for looking after arts records and archives are listed below.

Association of Performing Arts Collections (APAC) Starting Out Guide for Theatres and Theatre Companies 

Sustained Theatre Introduction and Archive toolkit

The National Archives - Archive principles and practice:

Archive principles and practice: An introduction to archives for non-archivists (PDF, 0.29Mb)

For archivists with arts archives

Detailed resources for preservation, management, review and access to  records and archives:

Collections Link (MLA) - Benchmarks for Collections Care 2.0

Collections Trust - Revisiting Archive Collections Toolkit

Collections Trust and Renaissance East Midlands - Reviewing Significance Framework

Museum of London - e-learning tools on collection care

PrestoSpace - Preservation guide

Screen Heritage UK - Screen Heritage UK handbook

The National Archives - Art and artists research guide

The National Archives - Film, television and the performing arts research guide

The National Archives - Collection Development Tools and Guidance (DOC, 0.26Mb)

West Yorkshire Archive Service - Community Archive Accreditation Scheme


Initial research

In an initial research phase we established the need for a thematic approach for Archiving the Arts, to help ensure that more collections survive for the future and are made available for research and inspiration. We reviewed the thinking and practice of collecting organisations, strategic and funding bodies and artistic practitioners. This has helped us to:

  • identify strengths and weaknesses in collecting and approaches
  • highlight priorities for action and development

The Arts Council and The National Archives have agreed to work together to seek a collaborative approach to supporting heritage across museums, libraries and archives. This is a strategic shift in the way that arts and culture are supported and managed in the UK, with Arts Council England assuming leadership of the museum and library sectors and The National Archives providing leadership for the archive sector. The Arts Council and The National Archives have agreed to work together to seek a collaborative approach to supporting heritage across museums, libraries and archives.

The first phase of research involved desk research and a review of policies and procedures from a range of organisations, followed by online surveys from late 2012 to early February 2013.

We asked collecting organisations about:

  • coverage, collecting policy and development; projects and initiatives for collecting; partnerships; funding sources and impacts for existing, current and future collections
  • policies, methods, toolkits, standards or other guidance
  • initiatives relating specifically to archives and the arts and the benefits of collection development

We asked strategic and funding bodies about:

  • successes and challenges; skills and funding gaps; coverage and completeness of collecting; drivers for collecting and re-use of archival material, including commercial and creative and research and learning activities
  • the potential for coverage and comprehensiveness; sustainability in the long-term; effective partnerships or initiatives taking place in isolation
  • the effectiveness of collaboration; practitioners keeping their records and archives; effective use of resources; effective models of development
  • policies, methods, toolkits, standards or other guidance used to inform or develop archives

We asked arts practitioners about:

  • types of records; whether these are mainly analogue, paper or digital
  • plans for long-term deposit; contact an archive; and any agreement to transfer records
  • plans for keeping records within the organisation; and the need for advice on looking after records

The surveys are available online below for reference and to inform further discussion.

Survey 1 - Collecting organisations (PDF, 0.05Mb)

Survey 2 - Strategic and funding bodies (PDF, 0.08Mb)

Survey 3 - Arts practitioners (PDF, 0.07Mb)

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