Projects

Shakespeare 400 Hub

In 2016, APAC is acting as a hub for members to share information about the ways they plan to celebrate the Shakespeare anniversary. APAC’s website has a dedicated page listing members’ projects and events. To contribute to the page, please send details to info@performingartscollections.org.uk.

Digital Preservation Working Group

In 2015, APAC formed an working group of interested members to focus on the digital preservation of performing arts collections, particularly moving image and sound materials. The group exists to update members’ skills and knowledge, and it connects members with experts in the field. At quarterly meetings, members discuss their needs and report on developments. It is planned that the group will create resources for the APAC website to help others.

Authority Working Group

In 2014, APAC formed an authority working group of interested members, as a direct outcome of APAC sessions and workshops addressing the authorities datasets available to the performing arts heritage sector. The group takes up issues identified in performance-related authorities (and the lack thereof), seeking potential solutions of benefit to APAC members and other professionals looking after performing arts materials. In 2014/15, the group’s work was funded by a Subject Specialist Network grant from Arts Council England.

SSN Funding 2011/12-2014/15

Since 2012, APAC has received three Subject Specialist Network (SSN) grants from Arts Council England:

UK Theatre Collections Database

UK Theatre Collections (UKTC) is an online database of more than 250 collection-level records from institutions around the UK holding performing arts materials. The records may detail a single collection within the institution, or the institution’s holdings as a whole.

UKTC has 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 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.

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. This project was completed in February 2011.

Although Collections Trust mothballed Culture Grid in March 2015, UKTC is still available to search, but records can no longer be updated. Therefore, APAC is looking at other options, with a view to moving the database once again.

National Performance Database

The National Performance Database is an ambitious project to develop an authoritative database recording 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 will also establish a national standard for cataloguing productions and performances.

The project began in 2005, when APAC received an SSN grant from Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to carry out a feasibility study and convened 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 the 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 throughout the UK and Ireland.

To achieve this aim, the Staging Beckett project has 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. The Staging Beckett database will launch online in 2015.

APAC is now looking at funding a larger project to put the full National Performance Database online.