ID: 49

WILLIAMS, Catherine


Now Head of Collections Knowledge at The National Archives, I previously spent ten years in the BBC’s Information & Archives department, where I implemented archive systems for the web, interactive television and mobile services as New Media Archivist. In my current role, I am directly involved in Finding Archives: a project which will see our online information resources accessible via The National Archives’ Discovery platform. I continue to lead on The Record - the initiative for ensuring a documentary legacy from London 2012 and the Cultural Olympiad - and actively support Archiving the Arts focused on the challenges and opportunities for archives in managing collections of different art forms and artistic practitioners. I have been a member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) since graduating from City University with an MSc in Information Science, and value the insight it provides into collecting outside of the archive sector.


Archiving the Arts: Supporting archives, Supporting the arts

Brief summary:

Archives record the history of art and artistic practice.  Archives inspire art and creative expression. Archives help drive the cultural and creative industries.

Archiving the Arts supports the development and sustainability of archive collections of the arts - visual art, literature, music, dance, theatre, combined arts, live art - across the UK.


Archiving the Arts is a collaborative programme led by The National Archives to identify and document existing arts collections, to support the continuing development of collections, and to encourage creative use of those collections.

The programme began in Autumn 2012 with exploratory surveys of collecting organisations, strategic and funding bodies, and arts practitioners to test assumptions and support planning. Respondents shared information on the coverage and scope of collections, types and format of material, existing projects and partnerships, skills and funding gaps, commercial and non-commercial use of collections, deposit arrangements, rights and ownership, sources of advice and guidance, and key challenges.

Using information gathered, the team has since embarked on a programme of workshops with archivists and artists - from across all disciplines - as introductions to collections management, conservation and preservation, access and outreach.  Delivered in partnership with Arts Council England (ACE), these workshops provide opportunities for the arts and archive sectors to come together, to build relationships and to form working partnerships.

But Archiving the Arts has other clear objectives and has established an expert advisory group - including representatives from the higher education sector and research communities - to help deliver them.

Over the next six months - the programme is funded 'til April 2015 - work will focus on ensuring its legacy: collections information held, digitisation underway, funding sources clearly signposted, access and outreach projects established, advice and guidance published, and Archiving the Arts business-as-usual for all.

Scientific contribution:

Archiving the Arts is a practical experiment in strategic collection development: an example of the application of documentation strategy based on a particular theme.  With The Record - an initiative for ensuring a documentary legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the Cultural Olympiad - The National Archives established a methodology for working with partners from across diverse sectors to agree an approach to recording the planning, delivery and impact of the Games.  Now the intention is to adopt a similar approach for the arts: creating a supportive network of stakeholders from creators, collectors, researchers, funders and any body with an interest in archiving the arts to educate and inspire future creative generations.      


The National Archives
collection development
digital preservation