Last week saw the launch of the ARA's new campaign, Don't Risk It! Know Your Records. I went to the launch campaign to see what it was all about and how it might help us at the National, where we are taking a good look at our records management strategy.
The campaign has been designed by the ARA Section for Records Management and Information Governance, who are the professionals who work with records management on a daily basis and are perfectly poised to advise the rest of the ARA on best practice. The launch event was really an introduction to the aims and toolkit as well as some case studies.
Importantly, the key messages are simple:
1. There are significant benefits and economies for organisations which manage their records and information well.
2. Organisations with poor (or no) record keeping systems are risking a great deal - legally and reputationally.
3. Professionals records managers are highly skilled, organisational problem-solvers. Modern, successful organisations need their skills.
A presentation from a records manager of the Bank of England showed the way records management can work in a very stream-lined manner. But, the National Theatre is nothing like the BofE and it is tricky to pick and choose what will suit my institution. Having had a look at the toolkit, there are activities and advice for all shapes and sizes of institutions and it has been kept deliberately broad. I am hoping that there will be some information there to help and opportunities to network with those in similar positions.
One of the overarching themes of the day was that of communication. I have long said that what we need at the NT is a good working relationship between the Archive and each and every department in order to build trust and understanding in what we do. Only then will we be able to set up a working records management strategy and ensure that we receive what we need to. This is just one of the three skills outlined as necessary in a records manager: technical and legal skills are also required.
I am working on writing our records management strategy at the moment and am looking forward to putting it into action in the next few months. It will not be as complicated as it could be, we do not currently come under FOI and we do not have the compliance restrictions on us that banks and financial institutions do but we have to work with the cultural archive material as well as the records required for records management. We will need to wait and see how my plans work when put into action!
Monday, 14 July 2014
|City Varieties Music Hall|
We then moved over to the Grand Theatre, which has also been undergoing a refurbishment with original tiles uncovered throughout the theatre. This is a far more ‘grand’ affair and, what struck me in particular, was how much more space there was in both of the theatres compared to the West End theatres I am used to in London. There you can get quite severe vertigo if you are in the cheap seats at the top. Here, however, the rake of seating is far more smooth and there is impressive leg room as the taller among us noted!
Something else that was interesting was that the archive came under the Learning department's jurisdiction, as it does at the NT. In Leeds, however, the Learning department were presented with a disordered archive which had not been catalogued or used at all and it fell to the Learning staff to make the most of it. This is a different perspective to the NT where the Archive was not always part of Learning but has sat in the Directors' office and under the General Manager before finally coming to rest in its current home. In Leeds, they are using the archive for all kinds of outreach activities and this is the focus of their approach to the cataloguing. It is really helpful to see which departments other archives are linked to and see what sort of relationships we can forge at the NT. I'd like our work to more linked to the Learning syllabus and, as there is enthusiasm on both sides, hopefully we'll get this happening soon!
|I also went to the Coronation Street set in Manchester!|
I have made the step up to Archivist of the NT and am getting to grips with a permanent position and the thrill of being able to plan further ahead then a few months!
I have been seeing so much theatre that I shock myself. Surprisingly, I am not getting saturated with it but I am actually getting better at being in the audience. When I moved to London, going to the theatre was quite difficult for me, I found it hard to concentrate for that long a period without doing other things. Now, I am finding it easier to switch off and appreciate what I am seeing for what it is. I have had a run of pretty good shows and I am beginning to sprinkle my usual NT serving with some West End shows and fringe theatre to get quite a cross section of London’s offering. I’m basically still in awe of anyone who can remember a whole script and deliver it in front of an audience!