Written by Mariel Marshall, with contributions from Adrienne Wong

On Monday, November 6, at the Alt Hotel in Ottawa, I delved into the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence and its impact on the creative performance landscape. This conversation was part of CAPACOA’s 2023 Confluence conference, featuring Canadian artist Adrienne Wong.

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More often than not, artsgoers of all ages are discovering new artists, shows and festivals through some sort of digital device. Whether they’re searching “events near me” on Google or asking Alexa to find a playlist that fits their mood, they increasingly look no further beyond what their device (and the algorithm behind it) recommends.

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A hand holds a smartphone horizontally, displaying Google search results for “Events near me today”. An arrow points to the results, with the invitation to “Boost your digital presence so audiences can easily find your organization (and your events)”.

Calling all performing arts organizations! You are cordially invited to participate in the newest edition of CAPACOA’s Digital Discoverability Program, as part of the Linked Digital Future Initiative (LDFI) and in support of the Artsdata project.

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In our previous blog post on Wikimedia Commons, we explained how wonderful a discoverability opportunity this platform can be for performing arts. Over our series of data literacy workshops, we further stressed that everyone in the performing arts has a need for good live performance photos: performers, designers, presenters, journalists, associations, etc. Free-use images make common sense. In this blog post, we’ll explain that publishing free-use images is actually easier than you might think.

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

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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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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 Schema.org 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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