Montreal, August 21, 2019 – “What shows can I see in Montreal tonight?” This is a rather straightforward question for a human being, but much more challenging one for AI-powered search and recommendation technologies. AI first needs to be taught what types of live performances exist, and it then requires quality structured data about actual live performances. A collective of performing arts organizations is about to do just that.

In an era of algorithms and highly personalized recommendations, anything that is unavailable as data is very unlikely to be found or recommended. In the absence of event data, concert or theatre goers may be unable to find performing arts events through their smartphone.

To better equip themselves for these new digital imperatives, performing arts organizations are strongly advised to embrace linked open data, affirms a new report published today by the Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA) and Bern University of Applied Sciences.

The report, titled A Linked Digital Future for the Performing Arts: Leveraging Synergies Along the Value Chain, provides an overview of international initiatives underway to establish a linked open data ecosystem for the performing arts. The Canadian approach it prescribes stands out. It is action-oriented, addressing data usage by every performing arts stakeholder in the value chain: artists, agents, production companies, presenters, operators of arts facilities, ticketing providers, etc. The report also delivers a call to action to the arts sector: adopt a standardized data model, and become contributors and users of data in a shared ecosystem.

If this holistic approach breaks new ground for the performing arts, standardized data models are already well established in other parts of the arts and culture sector. Libraries and publishing houses developed a whole set of standards to identify books and authors, or to exchange information about their catalogues. Film producers also have their own digital identifiers and central databases which Google uses to deliver detailed knowledge cards with screening times. The live performance, in contrast, is neither a physical nor a digital object. Consequently, historically there was little impetus for the adoption of shared data strategies. Until now.

The report recommends placing immediate focus on populating a shared knowledge base (also called a knowledge graph) for the performing arts. There are currently two partners who will collect and contribute data. RIDEAU will share data on performing arts productions, on organizations and on venues via its new Scène Pro platform. Culture Creates will deploy its Footlight technology to help arts organizations structure and link their event information into machine-readable data for smartphones and other digital devices. Other event calendar and digital application providers may soon join the movement.

“Very soon, tourists will be able to consult a geographic information application, such as Google Maps, to easily find live performances presented in a nearby venue, at a specific time,” states Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development at CAPACOA.

The Linked Digital Future report offers many more insights and recommendations to improve the discoverability of the performing arts. Among other things: the Wikidata participatory database is complementary to a Canadian knowledge graph, a data governance framework needs to be developed, and new business models leveraging linked open data must be devised.

The report is only the first phase of the much broader Linked Digital Future initiative. The initiative also involves digital discoverability services, workshops, and a digital navigation program to assist arts organizations in their digital transformation. For more information on these activities, on the report and on linked open data, visit

The Linked Digital Future initiative is funded by the Government of Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.

For information or for interview requests:
Frédéric Julien
Director of Research and Development
Canadian Arts Presenting Association (CAPACOA)
613-562-3515, ext. 3

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