The National Archives and Arts Council England embark on a new three-year collaboration

The National Archives and Arts Council England are pleased to announce that they have signed a collaboration agreement until 2024, building on a long history of mutual support. Archives, libraries and museums are closely connected in their work and our two organisations have many shared values and goals.

Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said:

‘This agreement comes at an important time for our sector when many institutions are facing challenges and having to make difficult decisions due to a variety of circumstances. We are delighted to be working with Arts Council England to bring together our work across the country and to facilitate a more collaborative conversation and I believe that through this new agreement, both partners will be able to support the wider cultural sector much more effectively.’

Sue Williamson, Director, Libraries at Arts Council England said:

‘The Arts Council is delighted to have developed a partnership agreement with The National Archives, building on a strong foundation of mutual support. There are many synergies and common areas of interest between Archives and Public Libraries, with some library services being responsible for managing an archive collection. We foresee many opportunities to work together in partnership to support national strategic developments, to share learning and intelligence and to continue to support the wider cultural sector.’

By working together, we will be better able to identify and tackle challenges across culture and heritage. These include diversifying the sector’s workforce, developing its digital capacity, expanding audiences, improving the accessibility and visibility of collections, and building resilience.

To achieve these goals, The National Archives and the Arts Council will focus on advocating collaboratively, sharing knowledge, skills and data, and making the most of funding opportunities. In particular, we will alert each other to collections at risk, enabling us to act more quickly so that we can preserve them. We will also seek out new opportunities, such as promoting the positive role of archives and collections in placemaking and wellbeing.

We already work together on a number of initiatives and this agreement will further support these. The National Archives will continue supporting the delivery of archival cases for the Arts Council’s Acceptance in Lieu scheme, as well as contributing to the ongoing development of the Arts Council’s Designation Scheme for outstanding collections in museums, libraries and archives.

Arts Council England will continue to provide input as a member of the Archives Unlocked steering board, which shapes The National Archives’ strategy for leading the archives sector. The Arts Council will also keep recognising archives as part of the nation’s wider creative, cultural and learning offer, and will connect its Tech Champions and Digital Culture Networks with the Digital Archives Learning Exchange.

Senior members of staff from both organisations will meet on an annual basis at the Discovering Collections Discovering Communities (DCDC) conference to discuss mutual interests, share the lessons learnt from our respective sectors, and review the direction of this agreement to ensure that the public has a comprehensive cultural offer.