APAC ArchiveTo mark its 40th anniversary in 2019, APAC processed and catalogued its archive, which resides at the V&A Theatre and Performance Archive. Past Executive Committee members had deposited papers, spanning 1988 to 2007 (with gaps), and these were sorted into series reflecting APAC’s administration and activities. An effort was made to fill in the gaps by contacting former committee members and the wider membership, with some additional materials contributed. Minutes and other documents were printed from the APAC listserv and the Executive Committee’s shared drive to bring the archive’s contents up to 2019. The catalogue is available on Archives Hub and on the V&A’s Search the Archives.
Shakespeare 400 Hub
In 2016, APAC acted as a hub for members to share information about the ways they were celebrating the Shakespeare anniversary. APAC’s website had a dedicated page listing members’ projects and events.
External Funding 2005-2015
SSN Funding from Arts Council England, 2011/12-2014/15
- 2013/14-2014/15: a grant of £9,100 for three areas of work: to hold the ‘Performance on Film’ Study Day and the symposium ‘Performance Collections and Their Users’ (both free to members); to maintain and make enhancements to the website (such as making it mobile-friendly); to enable discussion meetings about performing arts authorities. These meetings led to the formation of APAC’s Authority Working Group.
- 2012/13: a grant of £2,500 to hold the study day ‘Theatrical Prints: Technology, Audience, and Resources’ (free to members).
- 2011/12: a grant of £5,000 to design a completely new website providing more benefits to members. It launched in October 2012.
SSN Funding from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) 2005-2010
- 2010: a grant of £10,000 to migrate collection records from the Backstage website into Culture Grid to create the UK Theatre Collections dataset (see below)
- 2007: a grant of nearly £25,000 to build a working prototype of the National Performance Database
- 2005: a grant to carry out a feasibility study for a National Performance Database (see below)
UK Theatre Collections Database
Nearly 350 institutions across the UK contributed descriptions of their performing arts materials to APAC’s UK Theatre Collections (UKTC) database, hosted by Culture Grid. The records detailed a single collection within the institution, or the institution’s holdings as a whole. After Culture Grid closed in 2015, UKTC was taken off-line, but a list of the contributing institutions can be downloaded here.
UKTC had its origins in Backstage, an online catalogue of UK performing arts collections launched in 2002. The University of Kent, the University of Bristol, and the V&A’s Theatre Museum were the lead partners in this project, funded by the Research Support Libraries Project in 2000.
To assist in the Backstage project, APAC formed a working party on cataloguing standards in order to create the template for collection-level descriptions. These descriptions were at the heart of the website, which also contained records about the holding institutions (with contact information, etc.) and item-level records from some repositories.
Many archives, libraries, and museums around the UK were contacted to contribute their records, using the Directory of Performing Arts Resources (Francesca Franchi, 1998, third ed., Society for Theatre Research) as the starting point.
After the Backstage website was taken down in 2009, APAC transferred the collection records into Culture Grid, along with relevant institution details, to form UKTC. The data migration was carried out in 2010 through an SSN grant of £10,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).
This also funded a project to clean and update the migrated data, add new records, and hold a training day for APAC members on the admin ‘backend’ so that they could manage their records. The project was completed in February 2011.
National Performance Database
A national performance database would record individual performances of productions of plays, operas, dances, and other performed works in the UK and Ireland, from the 18th century to the present. It would establish a national standard for cataloguing productions and performances.
In the 2000s, APAC received two SSN grants from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to develop such a national resource. The first, in 2005, allowed APAC to carry out a feasibility study and to convene a working party of members who were cataloguing into their own performance databases: National Resource Centre for Dance, National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, V&A Theatre and Performance, as well as the commercial site UK Theatre Web.
In 2007, a second grant of nearly £25,000 funded the building of a working prototype of a performance database. Delivered in 2008, the prototype combined data from the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and UK Theatre Web. A user survey was also undertaken.
The prototype underwent further development in 2012-2015, as part of the Staging Beckett Project carried out by the universities of Reading and Chester and the V&A Museum. This project produced a database of professional productions of Samuel Beckett’s theatre works in the UK and Ireland.