2013 BAC Cataloguing Grant for Business Archives related to the Arts Winners

The Business Archives Council is delighted to announce the winners of the new BAC cataloguing grant for business archives related to the arts, 2013. The grant was launched this year to support an under-represented area of business archives and to complement wider initiatives for archiving the arts by The National Archives and the recently launched Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives.

An impressive set of applications were received by the July deadline, representing a variety of collections and localities in the United Kingdom. The judging panel decided that two applicants were particularly good and so exceptionally, on behalf of the BAC, has awarded two grants of £2000, one to IRIE! Dance Theatre for the cataloguing of their performance collection, and one to Pentabus Theatre for the cataloguing of their company records.

IRIE! Dance Theatre

IRIE! dance theatre is a charity and leading exponent of African Peoples’ Dance from 1985 to the present day. IRIE! have developed groundbreaking initiatives such as Europe’s first Diploma in dance, incorporating African and Caribbean dance as intellectually valid for study and research. These dance works reflect the development of African-Caribbean music and dance styles as adopted by young black people living in the UK in that era. The performance collection relates to the historic touring dance shows of the company, from 1985-2004, and is composed of series each relating to a specific touring dance show, including corporate communications, research and development records, sales and marketing records, technical information, and ephemera. The records are in a variety of formats including audio/visual material.

The judging panel recognised that IRIE! is a unique company and that its records reveal an under-represented section of the arts and the wider community, which was formally highlighted in research produced by State of Emergency Productions. The panel was impressed that IRIE!, with very limited funds, had already made a huge effort to ensure the preservation of the company’s records in-house, including establishing archival standard strong rooms, an access policy, and a digitisation strategy. The proposed plan is to catalogue the entire performance collection, which IRIE! demonstrated could be done within the constraints of the costs and time. The project will also be used to develop a sustainability plan for the Archive. The application particularly excelled in outlining the activities that the cataloguing would benefit. The performance records form part of a larger collection that has been put forward as an educational resource supporting the Foundation Degree programme in dance run in partnership with IRIE! dance theatre, City & Islington College and London Metropolitan University. Additionally, the project will facilitate IRIE’s future aim to integrate catalogues with Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and build partnerships with other archives such as the British Black Dance Archives Project (at the National Resource Centre For Dance) and the Black Cultural Archives. The collection also holds clear potential as a resource for the study of dance history, dance ethnography and migration studies and for engaging the African-Caribbean community, volunteers and others.

Read the report of the project completion.

Pentabus Theatre

Pentabus Theatre is a contemporary theatre company producing original plays about the rural world for local and national audiences.  It was one of the founding theatres of the community arts movement in the early 1970s, of which only a few, including Pentabus, have survived. The performances of these companies changed the face of theatre, breaking down the conventions of traditional theatre and taking productions directly to communities in their locale, offering site specific theatre experience in castles, fields and underground, and offering opportunities for audience members to partake in large-scale community theatre productions. Pentabus’s historical records includes photographs, playscripts, original hand drawn posters and advertising material, press reviews, letters, drawings, musical scores, video and audio material and rehearsal notes which relay Pentabus’s impact on communities, audiences and the theatre sector.

The judging panel recognised that Pentabus is a rare survivor of an innovative theatre movement. As highlighted by the application its records will be of huge use to the over 100 universities in the UK, and further afield, that offer a range of theatre performing arts degrees, almost all offering modules in community arts practice, the popular theatre tradition and political theatre.  The judges were very impressed that Pentabus were able to produce a cataloguing proposal of archival standard despite not yet having an established archive or a company Archivist. Pentabus had done so by gaining a large amount of support and professional advice in a very short space of time. The project proposal is to create a summary catalogue of the entire collection; the company committing additional funds to do so, and then depositing the collection with Shropshire Archives to ensure access and preservation. The judges were extremely pleased that the grant will help to establish Pentabus’s company archive, especially as it will help to promote the company’s 40th anniversary next year. Outreach was a key element of the application, specifically the 40th birthday celebrations, but including the use of volunteers to seek out further material and testimonials from former staff, performers, and audience members; to create an exhibition; and to create a history section on their website which will include digitised archives.

The panel believe that the two collections are very worthy recipients of this award and that once catalogued the collections will receive wider attention.

Read the report of the project completion.