Since the appalling decision to greatly reduce access to the V&A’s Theatre and Performance collection and fire two-thirds of the specialist staff and curators, there has been a justifiable outcry from academic institutions and the general public.
While this is to be expected, many of this blog’s readers have contacted me to ask about the archive as they have never personally visited it themselves, and so find it hard to fully appreciate what treasure lies within its parameters.
And so now you can go inside the collection, thanks to a short film called ENCOUNTERS IN THE ARCHIVE which takes you inside the collection, to look at some of the costumes, with expert curators discussing the works and their significance.
The film lasts 17 minutes. ENCOUNTERS IN THE ARCHIVE was conceived and produced by Donatella Barbieri and filmed and edited by filmmaker Netia Jones.
I am confident that after just a few minutes of this fascinating viewing, you’ll want to ask all your friends and colleagues to sign the petition to save the collection from being locked away from public sight potentially forever.
Watch ENCOUNTERS IN THE ARCHIVE here
Please sign the petition to save the V&A collection and its staff here
LATE ADDITION – Lord Smith has tabled a question in the House of Lords, which you can find here . While useful for drawing attention to this attempted cultural vandalism, if you share my wary opinion of our corrupt parliamentary system you may well agree with me that this has very little real value.
Statement upon the proposed restructuring & job losses at the V&A Theatre & Performance Department. 30 March
The V&A internal consultation process with its staff is concluding at the end of March. To my knowledge there has been no consultation with the industry or related bodies in the SIBMAS community. This is very disappointing for a museum with the reputation of the V&A, who say they value their performing arts collections, which are internationally so important.
SIBMAS continues to have concerns about what is going on as suddenly the Theatre & Performance Department, which are part of a distinct unit/department are now tied into the National Art Library review, when there is no obvious connection between National Art Library and Theatre & Performance Department. Indeed, National Art Library does not collect performing arts library materials. It is the Theatre & Performance team of experts that cover it within their remit in a different location & departmental structure. This is evident through V&A annual reports and museum’s collection policy. SIBMAS finds this confusing, and we ask for clarification, over potential jobs losses or furloughing of Theatre & Performance staff. We continue to ask for the V&A to have a consultation with SIBMAS & the industry it serves. In such a consultation we would emphasize once again that the V&A should make sure the Theatre & Performance Department is saved as an actual specialist entity within its restructuring.
The V&A management and Board of Trustees have been appointed well after the Theatre Museum closure in 2007 to save money. They may not be aware of the great uproar at that time. It was seen then that the Theatre Museum closure was the sacrificial cow to save the V&A money. Theatre & Performance should not take disproportionate cuts in any reorganisation. I believe that they have forgotten that performing arts collections needs a different approach to the decorative arts and crafts, to keep their unique character, as recognised by UNESCO.
Alan R. Jones ( President of SIBMAS )