New entrance and facade of Canada's National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Everyone knows Wikipedia, the world’s largest collaborative encyclopedia. However, not everyone is familiar yet with its sister project, Wikidata.

Wikidata is a free knowledge base that anyone can edit. It acts as central storage for the structured data of its Wikimedia sister projects including Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wiktionary, Wikisource, and others. The content of Wikidata is available under a free license and can be interlinked to other open data sets on the linked data web.

Over the course of the action research that lead to the publication the Linked Digital Future for the Performing Arts report, authors and advisory committee members observed:

It makes sense to manage some of the performing arts data in Wikidata – especially in areas where there are important overlaps to be expected with regard to other sectors and/or countries, where stakeholders are expected to maintain their own data directly on the platform, or where the reuse of the data within the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia would be beneficial from the point of view of the arts sector.

Estermann and Julien (2019), A Linked Digital Future for the Performing Arts: Leveraging Synergies along the Value Chain.

In order words, any performing arts industry information – artists, organizations, facilities, etc. –  that is likely to be of use to many stakeholders can be published and maintained directly in Wikidata, rather than being individually maintained in several distinct databases. It can save everyone time (because the publishing and editing workload is distributed). It can save money (it’s entirely free). And it can enhance the footprint of the performing arts in the digital world.

Wikidata is a free knowledge base that everyone can edit. Any peforming arts industry data can be published and maintained directly in Wikidata, rather than being individually maintained in several distinct databases.

Editing information in Wikidata is relatively simple. All you need is a Wikimedia account, a quick tutorial on Wikidata (such as this guided tour or this video) and a little guidance on the kind of statements you can make about performing arts items.

As a complement to the Linked Digital Future workshop series, we therefore prepared guidance in the form of a list of useful properties that anyone can use to add statements about performing arts facilities on Wikidata.

For more detailed notes, including recommended properties for artists and organizations, or for discussions of modelling issues, please refer to the following WikiProjects: 

For an example of performing arts facility modelling in Wikidata, Wikidata editors can check the Wikidata item for the National Arts Centre. The National Arts Centre has been demonstrating exemplary leadership in the adoption of linked open data. Its Wikidata statements include many useful properties.

Before concluding, it is important to note that manual editing isn’t the only way to populate Wikidata. It is also possible to do a data donation. A data donation involves uploading an entire dataset into Wikidata. This is sometimes referred to as a batch upload or an “ingest”. CAPACOA, Culture Creates and RIDEAU are currently conducting prototyping activities with the intent of populating performing arts industry data in a pan-Canadian knowledge graph. Once consolidated and cleaned up, data of a permanent nature (i.e., people, organizations and buildings but not ephemeral data about events) could be ingested in Wikidata, for the benefit of the entire performing arts sector.

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