What does a Theatre Archivist do?

An Archivist is responsible for managing and preserving the historical records and materials related to the theatre's productions, activities and heritage. This role involves collecting, organising, cataloguing, and preserving documents, artefacts, photographs, recordings, and other materials of historical significance to the theatre. 

What are the main responsibilities of an Archivist?

  • Identify, acquire, and preserve materials of historical significance to the theatre, including scripts, playbills, posters, photographs, costumes, set designs, audio recordings, and memorabilia
  • Create detailed records and descriptions of archival materials using standardised cataloguing systems and metadata standards
  • Implement appropriate storage solutions and preservation techniques to safeguard archival materials from damage, deterioration, and environmental hazards
  • Collaborate with conservators and preservation specialists to assess and address the conservation needs of fragile or deteriorating materials
  • Identify materials suitable for digitisation and oversee digitisation projects to create digital surrogates for preservation and access purposes
  • Provide research assistance and reference services to theatre staff, scholars, researchers, and the public seeking access to archival materials 
  • Curate exhibitions showcasing archival materials to promote the theatre's history, heritage, and cultural significance
  • Forge partnerships with cultural institutions, libraries, archives, and community organisations to promote collaboration, resource sharing, and advocacy for theatre archives
  • Advocate for the importance of theatre archives and the preservation of cultural heritage within the theatre community and beyond

Find training, experience and funding opportunities to help you get into theatre here

What qualifications do I need to be an Archivist?

A degree in a relevant field such as Archival Studies, Library Science, History, or Theatre Studies is often required. Some employers may prefer candidates with a master's degree or postgraduate qualification in Archival Studies or a related discipline.

What skills do I need to be an Archivist?

  • Knowledge of theatre history
  • Cataloguing skills
  • Preservation techniques
  • Research skills
  • Communication skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Digital Literacy
  • Advocacy 

What does a career as an Archivist look like?

Many aspiring theatre archivists start their careers in entry-level roles such as Archival Assistants, Library Assistants, or Museum Technicians. These positions provide opportunities to gain practical experience in archival tasks and procedures, along with work experience placements.

Read our blog 'What does work experience in theatre look like' to find out where to start.

How much does an Archivist earn?

The Archives and Records Association (ARA) recommends a minimum salary of £30,233 to £35,832 for archivists with experience.

The above is a guide. Pay, salary or fee can vary depending on the theatre or company, as well as your personal experience. National institutions or commercial productions can pay in excess of the above, with profit-share or community theatre paying less.  

You can find theatre jobs via The Stage Jobs here 


Published: 6th June 2024

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