PRESERVING THEATRICAL LEGACY: An Archiving Manual for Theatre Companies has been created for the busy theatre worker who loves this ephemeral art but is concerned about its place in history. Establishing and maintaining a functional archival program at a theatre company requires time, money, and long-term commitment. However, archiving is also adaptable to company mission, scalable to available resources, emotionally rewarding, and a great deal of fun.
Through its publications and training programs, the American Theatre Archive Project (ATAP) aims to help theatre companies develop an archival sensibility that saves time and money while preserving and making accessible records of theatrical process and product. ATAP focuses on establishing theatre archives on company premises rather than preparing records for transfer to an official archival repository, such as a library with a theatre collection. Theatre companies that are part of a larger organization, such as a university, will want to contact their institution’s archivist and/or records manager to determine what archival and retention policies and procedures are already in place, and use this manual accordingly.
This manual provides basic information about establishing and maintaining your theatre’s archives. As your company works through the process of assessing, surveying, appraising, storing, preserving, arranging, describing, and making accessible its legacy documents, ATAP archivists and documentarians are available to answer questions and recommend solutions to issues as they arise.
The American Theatre Archive Project (ATAP) supports theatre makers in archiving records of their work for the benefit of artists, scholars, patrons, and the public.
In cities where an ATAP team has not yet been established, theatres who are interested in organizing their archives may request a phone consultation with an ATAP archivist. The consulting archivist will introduce the ATAP Manual, discuss the theatre’s specific issues and concerns, and help develop next steps. The ATAP consulting archivists include ATAP team archivists who have volunteered for this service. Contact ATAP to be put in touch with a consulting archivist.