Shakespeare 400 Hub

In 2016, APAC acted as a hub for members to share information about the ways they were celebrating the Shakespeare anniversary. APAC’s website had a dedicated page listing members’ projects and events.

External Funding 2005-2015

SSN Funding from Arts Council England, 2011/12-2014/15

SSN Funding from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) 2005-2010

  • 2005: a grant to carry out a feasibility study for a National Performance Database (see below)
  • 2007: a grant of nearly £25,000 to build a working prototype of the National Performance Database
  • 2010: a grant of £10,000 to migrate collection records from the Backstage website into Culture Grid to create the UK Theatre Collections dataset (see below)

UK Theatre Collections Database

Nearly 350 institutions across the UK contributed descriptions of their performing arts materials to APAC’s UK Theatre Collections (UKTC) database, hosted by Culture Grid. The records detailed a single collection within the institution, or the institution’s holdings as a whole. After Culture Grid closed in 2015, UKTC was taken off-line, but a list of the contributing institutions can be downloaded here.

UKTC had its origins in Backstage, an online catalogue of UK performing arts collections launched in 2002. The University of Kent, the University of Bristol, and the V&A’s Theatre Museum were the lead partners in this project, funded by the Research Support Libraries Project in 2000.

To assist in the Backstage project, APAC formed a working party on cataloguing standards in order to create the template for collection-level descriptions. These descriptions were at the heart of the website, which also contained records about the holding institutions (with contact information, etc.) and item-level records from some repositories.

Many archives, libraries, and museums around the UK were contacted to contribute their records, using the Directory of Performing Arts Resources (Francesca Franchi, 1998, third ed., Society for Theatre Research) as the starting point.

After the Backstage website was taken down in 2009, APAC transferred the collection records into Culture Grid, along with relevant institution details, to form UKTC. The data migration was carried out in 2010 through an SSN grant of £10,000 from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).

This also funded a project to clean and update the migrated data, add new records, and hold a training day for APAC members on the admin ‘backend’ so that they could manage their records. The project was completed in February 2011. Culture Grid closed in March 2015, and UKTC was subsequently taken off-line.

National Performance Database

A national performance database would record individual performances of productions of plays, operas, dances, and other performed works in the UK and Ireland, from the 18th century to the present. It would establish a national standard for cataloguing productions and performances.

Since 2005, APAC has been interested in developing such a national resource. An SSN grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2005 allowed APAC to carry out a feasibility study and to convene a working party of members who were cataloguing into their own performance databases: National Resource Centre for Dance, National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, V&A Theatre and Performance, as well as the commercial site UK Theatre Web.

In 2007, a second SSN grant from MLA of nearly £25,000 funded the building of a working prototype of a performance database, delivered in 2008. The prototype combined data from the National Theatre, Royal Opera House, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and UK Theatre Web. A user survey was also undertaken.

The prototype underwent further development in 2012-2015, as part of the Staging Beckett Project carried out by the Universities of Reading and Chester and the V&A Museum. The project produced a database of professional productions of Samuel Beckett’s theatre works in the UK and Ireland.

APAC’s project to develop a national resource is currently on hold, awaiting funding.