This month APAC’s blog hears from the Friends of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, which was established in 1976. The Friends support APAC member, the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, which is one of world’s largest archives of British theatre history and Live Art.

As well as financial support to boost the work of the Theatre Collection members also engage through volunteering and other activities and events, such as exhibition launches, talks, and visits. One of our most successful initiatives was raising £10,000 towards the archive of Oliver Messel, one of the foremost stage designers of the twentieth century.

Fundraising Appeal by the Friends of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection to Conserve the Oliver Messel Archive.

Photograph of Oliver Messel by James De Vries c.1920s-1930s OHM/3/2/16 Oliver Messel Archive, University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

Our organisation – of 90 enthusiastic members – is independent and voluntary. It helps strengthen links between the Theatre Collection and other cultural, theatrical and educational organisations. Members pay just £15 annual subscription and some add a donation which boosts our fundraising. Our most recent grants to the Theatre Collection paid for eight auction lots to add to the Julia Trevelyan Oman Archive, a design by Peter Rice for ‘Christmas in King Street’ production at Bristol Old Vic, and allocated more funding for the Oral History Project.

Julia Trevelyan Oman. Panorama of her designs for the production of 'Arabella', Glyndebourne, 1984. Photograph credit: Chorley’s Auctioneers. Courtesy of Sir Roy Strong.

Peter Rice, set design for 'Christmas in King Street' performed by Bristol Old Vic Company 1958-1959, University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

During the pandemic we have kept in touch with our members with extra mailings and, with help from Theatre Collection staff, we have used Zoom for our AGM and a couple of talks – Emma Howgill ‘Grander Designs: Further Work on the Julia Trevelyan Oman Archive’ and Siân Williams ‘Ian Smith: Art Gangster, Mischief Maker & Maverick Performer’.

Julia Trevelyan Oman self-portrait c.1950 JTO/002/001 Julia Trevelyan Oman Archive, University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

Ian Smith c.2006 IS/2/5/8 Ian Smith Archive, University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

There’s no doubt we miss being at the Theatre Collection and seeing other members and staff. However, there are exciting plans for the Theatre Collection to move into a New University Library which has just received planning permission. It is an exciting prospect for the Friends as well as the Theatre Collection. In the New University Library the Theatre Collection and other cultural collections will be much more visible and accessible with public exhibition spaces, activities and events. We are really looking forward to finding out how we can play our part in opening up these remarkable collections to a wider public.

The Friends would be very happy to hear from you if you have any questions or want to chat about Friends and Supporters Groups.

Email theatrecollection-friends@bristol.ac.uk

Twitter @Friends_UoB_TC

 

Download our membership form here http://www.bristol.ac.uk/theatre-collection/get-involved/friends/

 

Friends of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection

Registered Charity No. 272392

Gallery

What connects our members’ collections? Here we put a spotlight on some of the curious themes that tie us together.