Paramount and State Theatres: Archives to UT

Some 3,000 items – from playbills and posters to contracts and correspondence – from the Paramount and State theatres are being donated to the UT Fine Arts Library

One day all those letters, programs, and photos on your desk are just clutter; the next thing you know, they're history. So it is with some 3,000 items – ranging from playbills and posters to contracts and correspondence – from the Paramount and State theatres. These items of the two theatres' business dealings had been gathering dust in various corners, drawers, and niches of the adjacent buildings when it was decided to donate them to the UT libraries. The records encompass 35 years of the Paramount's history, dating to the beginning of the historic opera house's restoration in 1971. Quite a few performances and screenings have gone down since then, leaving a massive paper trail that, according to Ken Stein, executive director of the Austin Theatre Alliance, which manages the two venues, staff had stashed in nooks, crannies, and crawl spaces from the bottom of the theatre to the top. Now, it's all heading to the Fine Arts Library at UT-Austin, where the staff will catalog, preserve, and house the materials in its special collections over the next year, after which they'll turn the collection over to students, scholars, and historians who can then study the hundreds of posters, programs, PSAs, publicity packs, board minutes, contracts, and assorted memorabilia to their hearts' content. Will they pore over the contract for Billy Joel's 1977 tour for his breakout album The Stranger, pondering his requirements for meals, beverages, dressing-room amenities, etc.? Or will they prefer to scrutinize the press package for the Burt Reynolds/Dolly Parton film of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which had its world premiere in Austin in 1982; or just see if they can copy Robert Rodriguez's autograph on the poster for the 2005 premiere of Sin City. Who can say? Plans are under way to exhibit a selection of posters in the near future.

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Paramount Theatre, State Theatre, Austin Theatre Alliance, Ken Stein, UT Fine Arts Library

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