Grant to enhance outdoor theater archive at ECU’s Joyner Library

A Midsummer Night's Dream at the 2013 Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Image source:

Put me in the category of Oregonians who hasn’t been to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, but will someday go. For nearly 80 years, the Tony award-winning OSF has attracted audiences to its outdoor Shakespearean stage plays each summer and more recently to indoor plays by other classical and contemporary playwrights.

Although OSF has its own archive, the professional theater company is a member of the Institute of Outdoor Theatre at East Carolina University’s College of Fine Arts and Communication. IOT membership provides the OSF and other theaters around the world with technical assistance, documentation of best practices in the field, management and feasibility studies, networking and conference activities, and other support.

More than 600 performing arts organizations, some dating back to the 1920s, have joined the IOT since it began in 1963. That means over time, the IOT has grown an archive of photographs, video and audio recordings, publicity materials, feasibility studies, original research, and other materials. Now the archive is on its way to reaching more researchers – especially set builders, folklorists, and historians.

A $56,290 National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) grant awarded this month to ECU’s Joyner Library will help pay to process the collections and publish a detailed EAD finding aid. ECU matched the one-year grant so a total of $119,500 can go toward the IOT archive project. The NHPRC of the National Archives funds projects  promoting the preservation and use of the nation’s most valuable archival resources.

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