Ref NoFH/BTF
TitleBlack Theatre Forum
DescriptionThe archive material dates from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. It consists of the Black Theatre Seasons records - including scripts, publicity material, leaflets, posters, press cuttings, photographs, audiotapes / soundcues from some productions - and relative correspondence, financial documents and minutes of meetings. The collection also includes: business records of the organisation; information on conferences, black cultural events, workshops and projects organised by BTF and other black organisations; publicity and information on various black theatre companies; newspaper cuttings on black theatre from mid 1970s to 1990 and a considerable number of theatre manuscripts. 95% of the archive is paper based, generally A4 sized. There are also photographs and a few reel-to-reel and cassette audiotapes.
AdminHistoryThe Black Theatre Forum was formed in 1985 as an umbrella organisation of African Caribbean and Asian theatre companies with the aim of stimulating the development of black theatre in Britain, attract wider audiences and to help create the conditions for greater equality of opportunity. As a co-ordinating body of seventeen black theatre companies it also functioned as producer of the Black Theatre Seasons - a festival organised in the West End during the 1980s aimed at de-marginalising black British theatre and move it to central London venues. Apart from the Seasons, the organisation ran numerous workshops and seminars, focusing on new writing, performance techniques and administration. It also ran two major national conferences, of which "Future Histories", held at the South Bank Centre in 1995, attracted over 200 delegates.

During the 1990s a number of conferences were also organised to address both the history and the future of black theatre and art management in the UK. Towards the end of the 1990s, the BTF office moved to the Oval House premises in South London. Shortly after this, priorities at the London Arts Board changed, its grant to BTF was cut and funds were allocated for BTF to wind down its activities. As a result, the office closed in 1998 but a part-time co-ordinator was retained. Instead of winding down, the small management committee decided to use the funds remaining to keep the organisation alive and succeeded in gaining funds from the Arts Council of England for a feasibility study for a Black Arts Development Agency. The national study "Connect" was completed in 1998 but the concept of an agency ultimately did not gain the support of the Arts Council, which preferred to invest in a series of targeted projects. While the committee continued to work and advocate for a development agency, their already meagre funds eventually ran out and the activities of BTF officially ended in 2001.

For a full history of BTF, see Dr Alda Terracciano’s account at http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/fa3c5923-dae8-454d-8c9f-f0613b11be56
PhysicalDescriptionGood, no special requirements
Date1970s-1998
Extent12 linear metres
LevelSubFonds
Creator NameBlack Theatre Forum
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