Why Do Performing Arts Organisations Maintain In-House Archive Services?

  • Richard James Wilson

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


This dissertation is based upon semi-structured interviews with archivists from three case study performing arts organisations: Cameron Mackintosh Ltd, Glyndebourne and the National Theatre. Its aim is to answer the title question: why do performing arts organisations maintain in-house archive services? Given the lack of literature relating to archive services in the performing arts sector, the author decided to use the literature relating to in-house archives in other types of organisations as the basis for the primary research. A review of this literature yields 12 themes that help to explain the existence of in-house archive services; the first seven concern the different ways in which they are used and the final five consist of other explanations for their existence. The themes are: anniversary celebrations; publications and communications; creative usage; asset management and legal usage; management usage; external enquiries and access; educational activities; organisational heritage; organisational objectives; high-level support; visibility and promotion; and evidence of performance. These themes formed the basis of the questionnaire used to conduct the semi-structured interviews.
The findings from the interviews are presented and analysed by theme together with a review of the corresponding literature. Given that the research is based upon only three case studies, it is not possible to give an authoritative answer to the title question in respect of all in-house archives in the performing arts sector. Notwithstanding this, five factors are identified that may explain the existence of the archive services in the case study organisations: the wide range of uses to which the services are put; the importance of heritage to the parent organisations; the ability of the services to support organisational objectives; the existence of high-level support for the services; and the visibility of the services
Date of Award2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorJennie Hill (Supervisor)

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