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ACTING ON A NEW STAGE:

performing arts information management in New South Wales

By Paul Bentley
February 1998


Contents

  1. Executive summary

  2. Introduction

  3. Information management

  4. Performing arts information management

  5. Performing arts information management in Australia

  6. Performing arts information in New South Wales 

  7. Recommendations

  8. References


1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Managing performing arts information

Performing arts information is created, processed and used by a complex web of people and organisations, including libraries and museums. A preliminary analysis of sources and services in New South Wales reveals policy and strategic overlaps, a need for more effective coordination of scant resources and opportunities for improved services to users.

Trends and developments in technology and telecommunications, information and records management, research and other information industry disciplines provide a context for solutions in managing performing arts information.

Knowledge management, a holistic approach for identifying, capturing and using tacit as well as explicit information, a discipline that places value on people and processes in the information delivery chain, is particularly relevant.

Critically important are clearly articulated objectives and functions, collaborations between information creators, handlers and producers, the use of common standards and the sharing of experience and technical expertise. An understanding of user needs is also vital.
It is highly desirable that New South Walesí performing arts information services and projects take into account the work of relevant national and state government bodies, arts organisations, tertiary institutions, libraries, museums and networks. Inspiration can be drawn also from many overseas enterprises such as the Arts and Humanities Data Service [AHDS].

Needs and opportunities

In this report, the following issues are explored.

  • Management of material previously owned by the Dennis Wolanski Library. Where is it? How accessible is it? Is it in the right place? Can anything be done to assist organisations to maximise its value?
  • Management of performing arts information by libraries. How can the collective effort be harnessed to address needs and maximise the value of services?
  • Management of performing arts information outside the library domain. How are performing arts organisations creating and managing their information? How effectively do libraries and museums use this information to offset workloads in their own domain? What will eventually happen to this information? Is it possible to create systems to facilitate access to information that is not currently visible?
  • Making capital out of performing arts knowledge workers. How effectively do we use the experience and knowledge of workers in libraries, academic institutions and other organisations? Is it possible to increase the value of this information through the development of more effective systems and strategies?
  • Management of processes and interactions. How are transactions between creators, handlers and users scrutinised, captured and utilised? Can anything be done to streamline processes and reduce duplicated effort?

In response to these questions, needs and opportunities have been identified for improved management of performing arts information inside and outside curatorial organisations, including life-cycle management of records in performing arts organisations, access to information produced by the media, the creation of value from performing arts worker knowledge, engineering collaborations between creators, handlers and users of information and development of specialised products and services.

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that a new foundation, based on the philanthropic objectives of the Dennis Wolanski Library of the Performing Arts Trust, be established to stimulate and support the management of performing arts information resources in New South Wales, complementing the role of the Performing Arts Special Interest Group of Museums Australia and other relevant professional groups.

The proposed goals of the foundation are:

  • Goal 1: Research. To stimulate improved management of performing arts information through research initiatives.
  • Goal 2: Publishing. To connect people with information resources, systems and networks through a Website, educational products and other publications.
  • Goal 3: Support. To support performing arts organisations, libraries, archives and museums through fellowships, grants, workshops and other forms of assistance.
     

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