The Wolanski Foundation Project


Report no 1 section 5: Performing arts information management in Australia









List of papers








performing arts information management in New South Wales



5.1 Government organisations

The two major policy and funding bodies in Australia are the Australia Council and the Department of Communications, the Information Technology and the Arts (DoCITA). In recent years, DoCITA has been a prime mover in developing and encouraging on-line and digital information services in the cultural field. It also co-ordinates the work of the Cultural Ministers Council and its various specialist committees.

5.2 Libraries, archives and museums

Performing arts collecting activities and reference services are conducted by federal and state government institutions such as the National Library of Australia and the National Film and Sound Archive. The National Library’s strategies for networking and collaboration, including the Australian Bibliographic Network and Register of Australian Archives of Manuscripts are all relevant to the development of performing arts information resources as are its specialist holdings on the performing arts.
Among state libraries, the performing arts collections of the State Library of NSW and the State Library of Victoria are particularly important.

Specialised performing arts collections, operated by performing arts centres and authorities, exist in all states except New South Wales and Tasmania. They include the Performing Arts Museum (Melbourne), the Performing Arts Collection of South Australia, Queensland Performing Arts Museum/ Gladys Moncrieff Library of the Performing Arts and Perth Theatre Trust collection.

Performing arts collections are also held by tertiary institutions, including specialist institutions like the National Institute of Dramatic Arts and the WA Academy for the Performing Arts.

5.3 Networks and multimedia projects

Professional groups
Library and museum interests are partly served by a number of professional groups, including the Performing Arts Special Interest Group of Museums Australia [PASIG]. The interests of music librarians and libraries are served by the Australian Branch of the International Association of Music Libraries, Documentation Centres and Archives [IAML] and those of the film and sound recording specialists, by the Australian Sound Recording Association [ASRA].

Internet resources
Access to performing arts library resources is facilitated by websites and other online services. The main gateway is the Australian Cultural Network and its conduits, Digitisation Forum Online, the Australian Libraries Gateway, the Archives of Australia Network, Screen Network Australia and Australian Museums Online. The latter includes a searchable database of 400,000 records held in 51 Australian museums. The Register of Australian Archives & Manuscripts, co-ordinated by the National Library holds about 30,000 entries from 100 contributing libraries – which are able to add entries directly via the National Library’s website. ArtsInfo, the National Networked Facility for Research in Australian Music [NFRAM], and the Keep Dancing Projects are also of particular interest.

Internet listservs
Professional thinking, policy-making, problem solving, debate, news and development are facilitated by many electronic mailing lists and listservs. Examples include local forums such as Ausculture, Oz-lib, Online Digital Forum, Australian Museums Forum, and Aus-Archivists and foreign services such as the Performing Arts Data Service and Digital Librarians.

5.4 Research

The development, promotion and dissemination of performing arts research was the subject of the National Symposium on Research in the Performing Arts held at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne during 1997.

Key issues discussed included the problem of defining research in the performing arts, the relevance of performing arts research to industry practice, documentation and dissemination of such research, and improved recognition and funding for research.

A National Council for Research on the Performing Arts was formed following the seminar, although the momentum for pursuing the conference recommendations appears to have faltered.

Arts research in progress is listed annually on the Australia Council Web site. The September 1997 edition includes projects by 28 government, academic and professional organisations in Australia on such topics as marketing to disability audiences, cultural tourism, exporting the arts, Australian cultural diversity best practice models, public attitudes to the arts, audience development, community music and benchmarking for performing arts centres.

Some performing arts research is promoted on individual Web sites. The Australian Drama Studies Centre, University of Queensland, for example, lists research projects undertaken by faculty members, From Page to Stage: an annotated bibliography of Australian drama being one such project. Griffith University’s OzSource website provides information on resources for Australian studies, including a nascent register of Australian studies’ researchers.

Further information on performing arts collections and other services can also be found in Companion to Australia Theatre, published by Currency Press, in the May1998 issue of Museum National and in the Searching for Performing Arts Information section of this Website.

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