ON A NEW STAGE:
performing arts information management in New South Wales
PERFORMING ARTS INFORMATION MANAGEMENT IN AUSTRALIA
5.1 Government organisations
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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’
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.