U of M Libraries convenes national discussion on theater archives

What: The Play Within a Play: Saving the Story of Your Theater’s Productions
When: Thursday-Friday, September 20-21, 2012
Where: Elmer L. Andersen Library, University of Minnesota

Minneapolis/St. Paul (9/13/2012) — Representatives from 34 local and national theater companies will convene at the University of Minnesota Sept. 20-21 to explore the value, impact and practice of artistic preservation. This is the second such forum that looks at enhancing current archival practices in theaters, with a special focus on theaters of color.

Read more about this initiative on Minnesota Public Radio.

The forum is especially timely and relevant, given last week’s announcement that the Penumbra Theatre will suspend programming due to budget issues.

The first day focuses on increasing awareness for what an archive is and how it can benefit theaters’ work, while the second day focuses on why historical and cultural context is of particular importance to theaters of color, and how archives are a tool not only to document history, but to create it. Keynote speakers will be Neal Cuthbert, McKnight Foundation Vice President of Program, speaking on Thursday, Sept. 20; and Lou Bellamy, Penumbra Founder and Artistic Director, who will speak on Friday, Sept. 21.

“We are excited by the strong response to these discussions,” said Cecily Marcus, curator of the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Performing Arts Archives and Givens Collection. “It is clear that theaters recognize the value and impact of an archive. Through these forums, we hope to better understand what obstacles theaters face when trying to create and maintain an archive for current and future use.”

The forum is part of a larger University of Minnesota Libraries project, Preserving the Ephemeral: An Archival Program for Theater and the Performing Arts, funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and is a partnership with Penumbra Theatre Company, Apollo Theatre, The American Theatre Project, and the Theatre Library Association. The goal of the project is to develop a sustainable records management program specific to the needs of theaters and performing arts organizations of color.

More information about the “Preserving the Ephemeral: An Archival Program for Theater and the Performing Arts” can be found at www.lib.umn.edu/about/ephemeral.

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