The National Archives, Kew

The National Archives at Kew wished to scope options for a Shakespeare on record project, to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death in 2016.  The project seeks to highlight the archives’ collection of 35 of the 79 known ‘Shakespeare Documents’ which date from the playwright’s life time and illustrate in particular his rise in fortune in Elizabethan and Jacobean London. The project presents a new direction for the archives in developing audiences, strengthen partnership working, and increasing its profile.  In appraising options, the archives were therefore interested in understanding potential audience interest as well as capacity requirements for the organisation and opportunities for partnerships.  Jura Consultants were commissioned to undertake the appraisal.  The study included in-depth face-to-face and online research of audiences, including visitors and non-visitors to The National Archvies, as well as visitors to Shakespeare’s Birthplace as a key Shakespeare destination managed by Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust.  The Trust was identified by the archives as a key potential project partner.  In total, 1,562 responses were gathered and analysed.  Key potential partners were also contacted and project sites audited.  This research was used to devise options that would best meet the archive’s objectives for the project, while making best use of its resources and capacity and delivering an attractive offer for existing and new audiences within the envelop of partnerships and programmes planned by other relevant organisations.