I’ve been thinking about this question a lot since starting the Clore Fellowship Programme. Out of 29 fellows I’m the only one from an archive. Being quite literally the only archivist in the room has made me reflect not just on my own role, but also on how archives fit into the cultural sector.
I wasn’t accustomed to seeing myself as part of the cultural sector before the fellowship began. My day job rarely takes me out of the office, and when it does I don’t venture beyond familiar territory: my last (hugely enjoyable) work trip was to London Metropolitan Archives (LMA). What’s more, working at The National Archives means that I’m a civil servant within the official archive of the UK central government, and until recently this governmental context loomed larger in my mind than potential areas of collaboration with galleries, theatres or dance companies.
Prompted by the fellowship, I spent a day in our Archives Sector Development department a few weeks ago to find out more about what they do. I’m getting the impression that other archives are more likely than The National Archives to exist in partnership with different kinds of cultural organisations.