Meeting minutes and minute books

Scope and Content

Minutes, agendas, notices of meeting and attendance registers for meetings of Committees of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre movement. A number of reports or memoranda produced by Committees for discussion at meetings are also included in this series. In addition, a small number of other papers relating to the work of the Committees are also covered, such as lists of Committee members and chronologies mapping the development of the SMNT movement and the appointment of the various Committees.

Some of the minutes and agendas in this series are in loose form (sub-series SMNT/1/1-5), others are included in minute or agenda books (sub-series SMNT/1/6). On some occasions, a copy of the minutes or agendas for the same meeting may be found both in loose form and in the minute book; these may sometimes present slight differences or annotations, or differnt drafts. On the other hand, for some meetings there is only a copy of the minutes or the agenda, to be found either in loose form in sub-series SMNT/1/1-5 or in the minute books in sub-series SMNT/1/6.

Not all minutes held during the course of the movement are documented in this series; a number of minutes, agendas or notices for meeting that may be referenced in the correspondence were not located with the papers of this collection.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre operated in a Committee structure. The General Committee mostly held a representative function. The Executive Committee was the main force driving the work of the movement from 1905 until about 1945.

The Joint Council of the National Theatre and the Old Vic was appointed in January 1946, the outcome of negotiations to amalgamate the two bodies. The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon also briefly joined the Joint Council from 1960.

For the years 1945-1963, the Joint Council was the 'public face' of the movement and replaced the SMNT committee leading the negotiations for the foundation of the National Theatre with stakeholders such as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the London County Council. The Executive and General Committees of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre continued to hold meetings after 1946, but these were less frequent.

In 1964, following the transfer of Trusteeship of the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre fund to the South Bank Board and subsequently the National Theatre Board, it was decided that the SMNT Executive Committee should be disbanded and the General Committee reconstituted with a reduced membership. Series SMNT/1/1 covers minutes of the SMNT General Committee up to 1970.

The Executive Committe and the Joint Council appointed smaller Committees to work ad hoc on specific tasks or areas. Material for these ad-hoc and smaller Committees can be found respectively in sub-series SMNT/1/3 and SMNT/1/5, as well as in some of the minute books in SMNT/1/6; more detail on the work of these Committees and dates of appointment is given at file level within the sub-series.


The material in this series is arranged by Committee. Sub-series SMNT/1/1-5 include loose minutes, agendas and notices of meetings, organised by Committee. Sub-series SMNT/1/6 includes minute, agendas and attendance books. Many of the books feature minutes, agenda and attendance registers for more than one Committee within the same book. To assist consultation, the minute books have been arranged as far as possible to mirror the Committees in sub-series SMNT/1/1-5; a full list of Committees in each book and covering dates is provided at file level for each book.

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