Records of the New Perspectives Theatre Company; 1970s-2000s

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection consists of material created in relation to the Company's theatrical productions, and administrative papers reflecting the Company's involvement in a wide range of activities, including participatory arts projects and the management of various schemes related to theatre and the arts in the region. There is also a small amount of material resulting from the governance of the Company, including meeting and board minutes (1983-2004), and various individual business plans, campaign administration, reports and autobiographical files which give an impression of how the business has developed.

A series of production files (1974-2002) contain publicity material (such as flyers, posters, etc.), scripts (sometimes heavily annotated with amendments or technical directions), photographs, reviews (photocopies of cuttings from newspapers) and administrative material (such as contracts between writers, directors, designers, etc., and correspondence). Much of the material is highly visual and attractive, and documents the activities of one of the longest surviving small scale touring companies of many that were set up in the mid-20th century.

Administrative papers (1970s-2005) reflect the 'behind-the-scenes' activities involved in the project and partnership based style of work typical of a grant funded arts organisation. Some files relate to individual short term arts participation projects based in one particular school or community group, others to larger projects which span a number of years or involve a range of contributors from across the region or beyond. Other files relate to the Company's management of the venue The Old Library, Mansfield, the scheme Northamptonshire Touring Arts, and the administration of a wide network of artists and venues. These project files reveal, through the activities of the Company, the role that arts and theatre making can play in tackling some of the issues affecting small communities in the East Midlands region over the years (for example, unemployment, miners' strikes, trade union activity, the garment industry, farming, etc.).

Administrative / Biographical History

New Perspectives Theatre Company began in 1972 as a Theatre-in-Education programme set up by five graduates. After taking up residency at the Key Theatre in Peterborough, they became Key Perspectives, drama specialists working with young people. Following a campaign in 1974 to save the theatre, they secured funding which allowed them to increase the number of permanent members and begin operating as a co-operative. In 1979 they took up residency at The Cresset, Bretton, Peterborough, becoming The Perspectives Theatre Company. They toured productions covering a range of local and minority issues especially produced for East Midlands audiences, and often performed at non-theatre venues.

Following cutbacks in Peterborough Council's budget, the Company secured residency at Mansfield Community Arts Centre in 1982 and have been based in the East Midlands since this date. In 1988, following the threat of the withdrawal of funds, a successful campaign was launched to save the Company, which underwent a re-structuring, involving the setting up of a management board, appointing an artistic director and a change of name to New Perspectives.

The Company's activities increased to three main areas: touring performances, a programme of workshops and other participatory activities, and acting as a development agency within the region. Over the years, they have been involved in a range of projects, including: running The Old Library, Mansfield, as a venue for workshops, exhibitions and touring productions; setting up the touring scheme, Northamptonshire Touring Arts (in partnership with local authorities); in 2004 producing the Creative Consultation Evaluation Report, which looked at using the arts to raise issues in rural communities. With a change of Director in 2003, there was a shift in focus back towards being a theatre company and less on the participatory arts programme. When management of The Old Library building reverted to Nottinghamshire County Council, the Company moved to new premises in Basford, Nottingham. Productions now tour nationally and sometimes internationally, and a particular emphasis is placed on developing new regional writing talent. New Perspectives Theatre Company is a limited company and registered charity.

Arrangement

A box list prepared by the Company shows that material relating specifically to productions had been arranged roughly into date order. The distinction between publicity material and admin in the production files has been loosely preserved.

The Company removed many of the financial and accounting files before the collection was transferred. Large quantities of publicity print have been weeded and duplicates were offered back to the Company.

The collection has been divided it into five main Subfonds: Governance (series of board minutes, meeting minutes, business plans, policy documents and autobiographical material); Productions (material relating to productions such as the series of production files, series of slides, negatives, posters); Administration (material relating the day-to-day running of the Company, also the various general files containing, for example, details of venues and artists which form part of the Company's network); Projects (material relating to partnerships with other organisations or for specific events, above and beyond the usual schedule of performances such as the participatory projects Growing Bolder and Watering Seeds, the running of The Old Library in Mansfield, the Creative Consultation report); and Northants Touring Arts Company.

Much of the material was in lever arch files which were removed and the collection re-boxed. A small amount of material is still undergoing further cataloguing.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is restricted to some parts of the collection, particularly the Governance and Administration files, under the Data Protection Act 1998 and other relevant legislation. Please see our Access Policy or contact us for further advice. No access is currently possible to some of the obsolete media formats.

Other Finding Aids

This catalogue is the primary finding aid for the catalogued material in the collection. Copyright in all Finding Aids belongs to the University of Nottingham.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Good

Conditions Governing Use

Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult.

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in writing from the Keeper of Manuscripts and Special Collections

Twentieth and twenty-first century material is subject to greater copying restrictions. Reprographic copies can be supplied for educational and private study purposes only, depending on access status and the condition of the documents.

Custodial History

The archive was acquired from the Company in July 2010.

Related Material

Twentieth Century Theatre Papers, 1929-1976 (Tw T)