Currently, much of the information about Canadian performing arts sector entities (including performers, directors, designers, choreographers, organizations, venues and events) is not properly formatted to be found, read and processed by search engines and other discovery technologies. As a result, it is too often ignored or underutilized.

The Linked Digital Future Initiative (LDFI) was created to make performing arts-related information findable and to help build better connections in our sector – between arts workers and audiences – in the digital age. One of the ways this has been achieved is by converting already publicly available information into reusable and accessible data in open databases, such as Wikidata and the Artsdata knowledge graph.

Although LDFI is leading this work, it will take many leaders in Canada’s performing arts sector contributing information to turn this vision into reality.

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Four people form a semicircle on stage, smiling and holding a series of hoops in their outstretched hands.

Two years ago, the Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance (IPAA) and the Canadian Association for the Performing Arts (CAPACOA) set out to undertake an unusual project. Noting the scarcity of information about Indigenous artists in open databases, the two associations saw a gap that had to be filled.

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CAPACOA is thrilled to announce that the LIVE Performing Arts Directory is now (in fact) live!

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2021-2022 was another great year for the Linked Digital Future Initiative.

In spite (or because) of the pandemic, we achieved significant progress in the production of open metadata about named entities in the last year. The number of artists in the Artsdata knowledge graph increased by 108%. The number of organizations, by 163%. And more data population activities are underway to increase the amount of data about places by at least as much. Moreover, we are finally looking forward to shifting the focus back to event metadata now that the sector is fully reopened after two years of running closures.

Metatada means “data about the data”. In the performing arts, metadata can provide useful descriptive information about artists, organizations, venues and performances.

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Tanya Tagaq performing, wearing a vivid red dress and a long earring.

Why is Wikimedia Commons a discoverability opportunity for the performing arts?

In a previous post pointing out the essential steps to a productive digital presence for the performing arts, we highlighted as a best practice the sharing of images in the Wikimedia Commons media library, a sister project of Wikipedia and Wikidata, under a free to use Creative Commons licence.

This practice deserves our attention because even if it may seem complex or disorienting, it is above all an extraordinary way to benefit from the positive bias of search engines.

We’ll be looking at Wikimedia Commons from three different angles.

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On November 18th, 2021, CAPACOA’s Director of Research and Development Frédéric Julien and Cultural Strategist, Bridget MacIntosh presented “Your Digital Presence, Let’s Improve it” as part of CAPACOA’s Àndji Màdjitàwin / Reboot / Relance Virtual Conference.

As we designed this presentation, we asked ourselves: “if a performing arts organization could only afford to take one or two steps to enhance their digital presence, what should they do?” We considered the most recent research and development, as well as tried-and-tested methods. We considered the different stakeholders of the performing arts ecosystem and we came up with a short list of calls to action for each one. 

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2021 was another year of ups and downs for the performing arts sector. Mostly downs, in fact. But there was one particular cheerful moment for the growing community of performing arts wikimedians.

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Wylie, M., Sculthorp, M, Gagnon-Turcotte, S., and Chatwin, M. (2021). A promising path to developing data governance in the performing arts sector: Exploring charters and principles for data governance. Open North and Canadian Association for the Performing Arts (CAPACOA).

Authors: Ayesha Zamudio-Vazquez (Open North), Megan Wylie (Open North)

A summary of what we heard from our speakers and you to continue this work on data governance of open linked metadata.

Thank you to all of the participants who joined us on November 8th, 2021 for the webinar: Data Governance in the Performing Arts: Findings and Dialogue. The discussion was so rich that we want to offer you a recap.

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A web page for an event at the National Arts Centre and the structured data describing this event.

Two years ago, public policy researchers at Nesta and The Satori Lab published a report encouraging arts organizations to publish open data about their events. As there is no data standard for the performing arts, the report notably recommended using to make it easier for crawling robots to read, interpret and share event information. Fine. But how can you add Schema structured data to your event pages? Here, in a nutshell, is how to get started.

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Banner with a woman working on a computer.

Open data. What is it? What about privacy? Does our cultural organization have data that we can make “open”?

These and other questions are discussed in “Time for Open Data in Culture.”

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