Shakespeare 400 Hub

In 2016, APAC acted as a hub for members to share information about the ways they were celebrating the Shakespeare anniversary. APAC’s website had a dedicated page listing members’ projects and events.

External Funding 2005-2015

SSN Funding from Arts Council England, 2011/12-2014/15

SSN Funding from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) 2005-2010

  • 2005: a grant to carry out a feasibility study for a National Performance Database (see below)
  • 2007: a grant of nearly £25,000 to build a working prototype of the National Performance Database
  • 2010: a grant of £10,000 to migrate collection records from the Backstage website into Culture Grid to create the UK Theatre Collections dataset (see below)

UK Theatre Collections Dataset

UK Theatre Collections (UKTC) was an online database of more than 350 collection-level records from institutions around the UK holding performing arts materials. The records detailed a single collection within the institution, or the institution’s holdings as a whole.

UKTC had its origins in Backstage, an online catalogue of UK performing arts collections launched in 2002. The University of Kent, the University of Bristol, and the V&A’s Theatre Museum were the lead partners in this project, funded by the Research Support Libraries Project in 2000.

To assist in the Backstage project, APAC formed a working party on cataloguing standards in order to create the template for collection-level descriptions. These descriptions were at the heart of the website, which also contained records about the holding institutions (with contact information, etc.) and item-level records from some repositories.

Many archives, libraries, and museums around the UK were contacted to contribute their records, using the Directory of Performing Arts Resources (Francesca Franchi, 1998, third ed., Society for Theatre Research) as the starting point.

After the Backstage website was taken down in 2009, APAC transferred the collection records into Culture Grid, along with relevant institution details, to form the UK Theatre Collections dataset. The data migration was carried out in 2010 through an SSN grant of £10,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

This also funded a project to clean and update the migrated data, add new records, and hold a training day for APAC members on the admin ‘backend’ so that they could manage their records. The project was completed in February 2011. Culture Grid closed in March 2015, and although the UKTC records could still be searched, they could not be updated. The UKTC dataset was taken down from the APAC website in 2018.

National Performance Database

A national performance database would record individual performances of productions of plays, operas, dances, and other performed works in the UK and Ireland, from the 18th century to the present. It would establish a national standard for cataloguing productions and performances.

Since 2005, APAC has been interested in developing such a national resource. An SSN grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2005 allowed APAC to carry out a feasibility study and to convene a working party of members who were cataloguing into their own performance databases: National Resource Centre for Dance, National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, V&A Theatre and Performance, as well as the commercial site UK Theatre Web.

In 2007, a second SSN grant from MLA of nearly £25,000 funded the building of a working prototype of a national performance database, delivered in 2008. The prototype combined data from the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and UK Theatre Web. A user survey was also undertaken. The project was then put on hold awaiting further funding.

In 2012, the University of Reading, with the V&A Museum and the University of Chester, received Arts and Humanities Research Council funding for the Staging Beckett Project. One of the project’s main outputs was creation of a database of all professional productions of Samuel Beckett’s theatre works throughout the UK and Ireland. To achieve this aim, the Staging Beckett project used a refreshed and more fully developed version of APAC’s prototype. APAC members and other stakeholders were consulted during the project, on both the data model and the functional requirements of the database.