ON A NEW STAGE:
performing arts information management in New South Wales
4 PERFORMING ARTS INFORMATION MANAGEMENT.
4.1 The performing arts – a definition
Although the performing arts have been practised
since the days of the Dionysian dance orgies, performing arts - as a
collective concept - is a recent invention. Defined by the Macquarie
Dictionary as "drama, music, and the dance, collectively", it encompasses
opera, radio, film, television, puppetry, circus, vaudeville, variety and
other forms of popular entertainment. In evaluating and developing
information resources on the performing arts it is advisable to separate
them into three main groups: [a] live theatre [b] music [c] film, radio and
4.2 The performing arts industry
Each year in Australia there are close to 20,000
performances by over 1000 theatre, dance and opera companies, orchestras and
other groups - not including about 500,000 performances by 5500 popular
This output produces an avalanche of information
created, collected and distributed by libraries, networks, publishers and
other organisations. The effort associated with managing this information
prompts questions about the relative importance and value of specific
information, the level of duplicated effort and data, and difficulties
associated with discovering and recovering this information across a
4.3 Library and museum – collecting interests
In assembling collections of performing arts
information, libraries and museums are driven by three distinct interests:
Collecting performing arts documentation.
This involves the acquisition, processing and preservation of a range of
materials created by individuals, performing arts organisations and
publishers including reference books and periodicals, press clippings,
theatre and concert programs, archival materials and manuscripts.
Documenting the performing arts. This
includes activities such as database creation and oral history programs
that add value, give a more accessible structure or compensate for gaps
in assembled primary and secondary source information. It is possible to
document the performing arts without creating a physical collection.
Presenting performing arts information.
Museums, particularly, acquire material as objects for exhibitions as
well as for research and study.
Sometimes collecting institutions embrace all three areas. More often
than not, they specialise in one or two areas. In developing policies
and strategic direction it is important that organisations understand
the differences and the resource implications of each type of collecting