The Wolanski Foundation Project


Paper no 9 section 5









List of papers








by Paul Bentley

21 August 2000

National Database of Australian Theatre Practice

The quest for performing arts information standards

United States projects and initiatives

European projects and initiatives

Australian projects and initiatives



In Australia, work has been largely confined to database efforts within collecting institutions and other organisations, although the National Library of Australia and Australian Museums Online both operate union catalogues or distributed database services which lead to performing arts information and materials in Australian libraries and museums. Collaborative projects like the National Networked Facility for Research in Australian Music and Keep Dancing have consolidated research interests in the field of music and dance. 

Australia Council

The Council has initiated a number of projects in recent decades: These include:

  • Directory of Arts Libraries and Resource Collections in Australia. edited by Sue Maddress [North Sydney: Australia Council, 1983]. Published as the result of a recommendation made at a national seminar on arts information in Australia, organised by the Museums, Arts and Humanities Group. Now out of date, but may serve as some sort of model for an electronic gateway and tool for identifying potential resources. 

  • Artsdoc. An electronic database of arts names and topics linked to the Australia Councilís press clippings file in the 1980s and made available commercially on CD ROM by RMIT. Eventually folded because of low levels of interest and lack of funds for maintenance and development. Its possible use as the starting point for an authority file is debateable.

  • Technology and the arts. In 1999, the Council planned to conduct a national survey on the use of technology by arts organisations. It this is still in the pipeline it may be desirable to dovetail ATDPís current and/or future survey work with the Australia Councilís agenda. 

Sydney Opera House Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts.

Developed an integrated database/imaging system using Altaramaís Data*Library system and Watermark Document Management system. The project, implemented prior to the closure of the library in 1997, involved the creation of imaging procedures, data entry guidelines and other documentation for describing a full range of bibliographic and non-bibliographic resources [eg event descriptions].


The Wolanski Foundation

Established following the closure of the Dennis Wolanski Library to facilitate management, presentation and appreciation of the performing arts through research, publishing and industry support programs. Its research interests include exploring strategic performing arts management issues such as the role and potential of professional associations and non-government organisations and the development of standards and information tools.

  • Website: <>

Other specialist performing arts libraries and museum.

Separate surveys on automation in Australian and NSW collections were conducted by Paul Bentley in 1996 and 1998. These sought information on practices in such organisations as the Adelaide Festival Centre, Queensland Performing Arts Museum and Gladys Moncrieff Library of the Performing Arts and the Victorian Arts Centre Performing Arts Museum, as well as general libraries with performing arts interests. Since the ATDP will assemble current information on collections, software, hardware and practices in these institutions, the earlier surveys are of academic interests only.



With funding from the Australia Council, Artslink launched a website in 1998 to provide access to information on about 20,000 organisations in the Australian Performing Arts Directory and other sources. The site closed in 1999, but appears to be again under construction. Artslink acquired the collection of the International Theatre Institute Australian Centre in the early 1990s.

  • Web address: <>

National Networked Facility for Resources in Australian Music

A network of music libraries and other organisations including the Australian National University, Monash University, Australian Music Centre, La Trobe University, National Library of Australia and ScreenSound Australia. Its website provides an annotated guide to music collections, archives, libraries and museums, people, publications and resources such as ephemera, film and moving images, manuscripts, newspapers, oral history, pictures, printed material, sound recordings and unpublished material

  • Web address: <>

Keep Dancing

A joint venture of the ScreenSound Australia, the National Library of Australia and Ausdance. Funded by the Australia Council, the Project aims to locate, preserve and make accessible film and video examples of the work of some of Australia's leading choreographers and to link moving images with related dance resources in other media, especially extensive dance material held by the National Library of Australia.

  • The Australian Dance Collection Directory <


Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts and Cultural Ministers Council.

Has broad responsibility for Government policy and strategy on culture and technology, particularly through the New Technologies Working Party. The National Culture-Leisure Industry Statistical Framework, published by the Cultural Ministers Council to improve industry statistics and analysis, may be relevant in developing categories and codes for event information. 

  • Web addresses: <> and <>


Provides an expert group forum to explore issues on metadata and database interoperability issues; encourage interagency collaboration on project  development; plan cross-agency implementation models for online access to cultural content; implement common core standards across COMDIG member databases where possible; act as a steering committee for developing cultural sector projects;  provide expert advice on pertinent issues to industry and other government steering committees and working parties; and liaise with relevant national and international organisations.

  • Website: <>

Distributed Systems Technology Centre

A joint venture, supported by the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program and over 24 participating organisations, which undertakes research, develops software, and provides training and professional consulting services, particularly in relation to workflow, CORBA, Java, XML, distributed object middleware, Internet systems, knowledge management, metadata, collaborative computing, groupware, security and network infrastructure. Lead organisation for the Metaweb project.

  • DSTC Website:

  • Australian MetaWeb Project:

  • Other information: Distributed searching across cultural resources using Z39.50 and SQL: a powerful combination / Sanya M Finnegan, Linda J. Bird and Robert M Colomb, Available from the Information Online and On Disc website at: <>

Australian Museums Online
Apart from AMOLís experience in developing a distributed database of museum objects, options being considered for the future operation of the organisation may have relevance to the long-term sustainability of the ATDP.

  • Website: <>

  • Report details: Dench McLean Pty Ltd. Assessment of the options for the future operation of the AMOL project: Discusses the pros and cons of managing Australian Museums Online as a cooperative, association, joint venture, partnership pr trust. April 2000. [Available from AMOL website]

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