Studying Performing Arts Across Borders: Towards a European Performing Arts Dataverse (EPAD)
EPAD is a network of scholars investigating the history of European performing arts (theatre, music, cinema) using digital methods and datasets. The aim of international cooperation is driven by two interconnected aims: (1) a technical-infrastructural purpose, facilitating (2) the comparative-historical objective.
1 – The purpose of the consortium is to share expertise, facilities and netaworks that will lay the foundations for creating an infrastructure that brings together existing digital data collections in Europe on the history of performing arts (cinema, theatre, music) and that allows for the joint exploration of these datasets in historical research. We aim to build upon the CLARIAH infrastructure and tools for harmonizing and querying socio-economic datasets based on a linked data approach (CLARIAH Structured Data Hub). The work involves developing ontologies, shared data models and thesauri containing internationally shared terms for performing arts data, as well as building the actual infrastructure within the context of the European Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities DARIAH.
2 – The aim of this digital infrastructure is to enable studying patterns of cultural exchange and tracing the development of European ‘taste’ cultures. The proposed digital infrastructure will enable us to transcend two sets of limitations that have restricted the current state of research. First, it will allow a genuine international scope that does justice to the border-crossing nature of the performing arts, across time and space, in fields that presently are still often confined to a national (or local) framework. Second, it will view performances of theatre, music and cinema in their mutual relation, revealing overlaps in places, people and content across the sectors, stimulating scholarly contacts beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries. By taking the performance as a point of departure, the project aims to redefine perspectives on genre and the cultural canon from the perspective of cultural consumption, rather than the point of view of production/authorship that takes ‘the work’ as its central object.
EPAD builds on the infrastructure and expertise collected in existing projects at CREATE with a data-driven approach to the history of cinema, theatre and music performances, functioning as point of departure from where more extensive European cross-sectorial cooperation can develop:
- ONSTAGE: an online database with programming data of the ‘Amsterdamse Schouwburg’ from the Golden Age
- CINEMA CONTEXT: a comprehensive dataset of Dutch cinema culture
- FELIX: a programming database of the Amsterdam concert hall Felix Meritis
The international partner institutions harbor leading expertise in the design, construction, collection, curation and use of large digital data collections in the fields of music, theatre and cinema history. They include: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, Goldsmiths University of London, University of Oslo, University of Cologne, Masaryk University, Brno.
EPAD is a multi-year project that involves building a network (current start-up phase), jointly exploring the conditions for international, comparative historical research on the history of European performing arts using digital methods and data (phase 2), acquiring funding to build the infrastructure for conducting such research (phase 3a) and, in parallel, using the infrastructure in collaborative historiographical research projects (phase 3b).