Poole Pottery pattern book courtesy Dorset History Centre D/PPY

Supporting the arts, supporting archives

Archiving the arts is an initiative to support arts archives in the UK, wherever they are held. Our team works to ensure that records of the arts are well cared for, accessible and recognised as valuable by those who look after them and the wider public.

Our work covers all arts disciplines - visual art, literature, music, dance, theatre, combined arts and live art. We have aimed to support sustainability and collection development for archival collections of the arts, so that more material survives and is collected for the future.

Why arts?

We believe arts archives are important because the information in these records can tell us how:

  • artworks of all kinds were created and give an insight into the creative process
  • the arts and their audiences have changed over the years and how this is reflected in archives
  • the arts have been viewed, championed, questioned and preserved
  • artworks and the history of the arts has inspired new generations of artists

Our active work on Archiving the Arts will be drawing to a close at the end of March 2016.

We have reached over 250 organisations and individuals, providing advice on good practice, development, partnerships and sources of funding. We have delivered a range of regional and specialist events, covering ideas, arts archives of many kinds, creative re-use, development, collaboration, funding, digital, Copyright and other Intellectual Property rights. We have gained so much from working with Archiving the Arts supporters and champions, from a little advice that goes a long way, gathering and sharing knowledge of collections, supporting and hosting events, right through to support for major projects and initiatives.

You can find out more about the resources and case studies we have brought together on our resources page. We are very keen to gather more case studies, as this is an excellent way to share the learning.

For more information on our areas of interest and to get involved please see below and contact us.

What we do

We want our activities, advice and initiatives to be as wide-ranging, relevant and helpful as possible to those caring for arts archives. To get an idea of what we do, here are some of our key activities:


Art360: The Gift and its Legacy,Goldsmiths, University of London, Friday 19 February 2016

10:00 - 15:45, Professor Stuart Hall Building London, SE14 6AD

As part of Art360, we invite you to attend a conference exploring the long-term impact of donations by artists, artists' estates, galleries and collectors in supporting the UK's visual arts.
The Gift and its Legacy will launch Art360, a major national initiative to safeguard the cultural heritage of British artists and artists' estates supported by Arts Council England. The Art360 project is particularly resonant at this time, with a number of important shifts in recent years that have disrupted the traditional model for art collection and preservation.  With the acceleration of cultural and artistic trends, technology platforms and the global acquisition of works by British artists, the issue of legacy planning for artists is not being systemically addressed and cultural assets are being depleted more swiftly than ever before.

Chaired by Richard Noble, Head of the Department of Art, Goldsmiths, the conference will bring together experts from across the visual arts to provoke dialogue on the importance of these donations. Speakers include Michael Craig-Martin, artist; Candida Gertler, Director and Trustee, Outset Contemporary Art Fund; Mary Moore, representative of Henry Moore's Estate and co-founder of the Henry Moore Foundation; Gilane Tawadros, Chief Executive, DACS; Christine Vincent, Project Director, The Aspen Institute; and many more.

Tickets cost £12 for general entry and £6 for concessions (£10 and £5 excluding VAT). Booking in advance is advised as places are limited.

Book your ticket online here.

Art360 brings together the shared expertise of the following partners: DACS Foundation, DACS, The National Archives, Art Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England and regional archive hub partners such as Arnolfini, Nottingham Contemporary and Turner Contemporary.

We previously offered regional Archiving the Arts events aimed at archives, arts organisations and artists, as a way to share advice, showcase inspiring case studies and also offer the opportunity for networking. Working with partners through Art360 will ensure that this regional programme is sustained from April 2016 onwards.


We've been gathering knowledge of arts archives wherever they are held across the UK through targeted surveys to archives, arts organisations, artists, funders and strategic bodies. From these responses we have so far added descriptions for well over 200 collections to the National Register of Archives, which is now available on the Discovery platform. We are also working on a report which explores our findings relating to developments for arts archives and related partnerships and we will be posting updates about this shortly.

Advice and guidance

A large part of our work is advising those who look after arts archives on their care and management. This can range from email guidance on the best places to find funding for a particular project, to an advisory visit to help with negotiations around the deposit of a collection in an archive.

If you care for arts records or archives and need some advice on any aspect of this, please do get in contact with us.

Archiving the arts resources

You can find useful resources and guidance on archiving the arts on our resources page.

Get involved in archiving the arts

Please get in touch with a member of the team if you need advice and guidance on:

  • looking after your records
  • archiving your website
  • depositing records with your local or specialist record office

Or if you are:

  • interested in attending any future events
  • keen to add details of your arts archives to the National Register of Archives, which is searchable on Discovery.

Fleur Soper
Collections Knowledge Manager asd@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk
+44 (0) 20 8392 5330 x 2548

Kate Wheeler
Head of Collections Knowledge asd@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk
+44 (0) 20 8392 5330 x 2460