SIBMAS response to the recent statement by the V&A concerning the National Art Library and archive jobs.
We welcome the V&A’s decision to slow down its process of making cuts to both National Art Library and Theatre and Performance archive jobs, and to make use of the extended furlough scheme.
However this still leaves the status of the Theatre and Performance Department unclear, and only partly addresses the issues raised in the petition that over 15,000 people signed. We need the V&A to address questions about how their proposals protect the unique character of performing arts collections, as recognised by UNESCO, and keep the promises made when the Theatre Museum was closed in 2007.
We have great concerns as to the V&A’s proposed new approach to its structure with the loss of a dedicated specialist department by grouping together of collection areas due to “natural synergies”. Theatre & Performance in the UK not only deserves its own national specialist department, but it should also have its own museum. SIBMAS laments the simple fact that the UK does not have such a national theatre museum of performance, when across Europe specialist museums are part of the backbone of many nations’ museums cultures. At very least we should support a specialist department in a major UK museum and have it recognised as such.
We now have a great opportunity for dialogue, and we call on the V&A to reach out to SIBMAS and other stakeholders in the theatre heritage and wider performing arts sector, in order to seek creative ways of ensuring the best possible continued stewardship of, and the widest possible access to, these unique resources.
To make this issue more public SIBMAS arranged an online petition at change.org (http://chng.it/HFgsGKXdyv). Anyone who wants to give V&A department of Theatre and Performance their support can sign it. Or send an open letter of protest & support to the V&A.
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