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Performance as Knowledge graphic     3.05.06
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post icon Surveying participation in archives
– Gavin Clarke, Tuesday, August 22, 2006 at 16:37:11
 

Just a note to say that the survey along the lines I suggested is now being conducted by MLA: 'London Schools Participation Database Survey'; a survey of school participation in museum and archive education; details are available on the MLA site: www.mla.org.uk

Maybe I'm missing something, or such data is available somewhere but I still think such a survey would be enormously helpful at university level; also one of artist participation or residencies would be of great interest.

[arrowreply]

   

   
post icon Documenting the Practice and Process of Performance
– Bonni Hewson, Friday, June 30, 2006 at 08:51:14
 

Dear Performance as Knowledge group,

I thought this might be a good place to tell everyone about my PhD research (started in Sept 05) and to ask any one who thinks it sounds interesting to drop me a line, or email, so that I can involve them in my research.

I am am looking at how practices of theatrical performance, including both creative and production processes, can be represented by collections, as a basis for further creative works and as a repository of performance knowledge.

I am looking for members of the performance collection sector, policy making, support sector, practitioners etc who are interested in the idea of recording more of the creative and production processes of a performance. I will be conducting interviews and gathering data through questionaires from October.

This is obviously a growing area of interest, as the Performance as Knowledge seminar indicated and projects such as the National Theatre's Stagework site (www.stagework.org) are moving in the right direction. I am coming at the topic for the direction of performing arts colletions themselves, looking at the following four strands:

- why collections collect performance at all - I will be looking at issues of memory and identity and cultural value.

- what collections choose to collect of performance - I will be looking at the growing interest in the creative process and the neglect of production practices within theatre anthropology, as well as more practical issues which affect collection decisions. I will be using my own fringe theatre company (Apricot Theatre) as a case study.

- how these practices are represented - what material can reflect the cultural value and surrent interests of the industry, and how material can convey meaning and context

- who will use this material in performance collections - looking at cultural production and creativity and how collections provide raw material for further experimentation

Thanks for your time and interest,

Bonnie Hewson
e.hewson@ucl.ac.uk
07816858053

UCL & V&A Theatre Museum
AHRC Collaborative Award

[arrowreply]

   

   
post icon Innovation in Learning – Gavin Clarke, Friday, May 5, 2006 at 14:23:30
 

Further to Wednesday’s discussions I’d like to encourage those in the Innovation in Learning workgroup, and everyone else, to submit their ideas on encouraging collaboration between the HE sector and archives. A basic assumption in the discussion seemed to be that university performing arts departments do not generally engage with archives (and vice-versa) in any programmatic way. It would be helpful first to challenge this assumption by finding out what performing arts related university courses run archive-based activity/modules; do you know any? A survey of this activity would be interesting; I’ll compile a list from any responses and gather what other information is available.

Our group discussion was greatly concerned with the cultivation of basic archive research skills and of student awareness of the archive resources available. One of the keys to improving skills and awareness was thought to be the identification of high profile advocates for archives within the performing arts. We also considered the problems of documenting the creative process: is it possible, desirable; feasible? Below are some observations that I hope will help kick-off further debate.

That so few of the delegates knew of the performing arts gateway www.backstage.ac.uk should alert us to the need to establish connections between the various groups represented yesterday. With the publication of Daisy’s list (the title has stuck) of Digital Collections in Performing Arts Subject Areas there will be two hubs for information on collections held nationwide but perhaps what is needed is a more general guide to what services archives can offer to universities, schools, performers etc.: study days; residencies; lectures; talks; inductions; secondments; orientations; open days; tours... and what help is available to archives from universities, the MLA, theatre companies etc. to develop these services. Such a guide could take various forms: a development of Backstage, a super-listserve (maybe too unwieldy); a website or a section of one (such as ResCen or that to be developed by the Theatre Information Group); a quarterly bulletin... Maybe it is only possible for archives, university departments, theatre companies etc. to address this individually by their outreach initiatives, but there is scope to seek advocates at a high level (Dear Lord Smith...) for the inclusion of archive-based work in performing arts university programmes and school curricula. University research offices have a key role here: there is great potential to develop for-credit “research in archives” courses.

Of course, this is a weakness not particular to the performing arts – after years of neglecting archival resources many university history departments now work closely with archivists and can be used as a model for future archive-academy relationships. However, some performing arts archives are running successful programmes in co-operation with university departments, prime examples being the Bristol MA module research project ‘Resuscitating Cultural Performance’ based in Bristol’s Theatre Collection and the Theatre Museum’s PhD Studentship. We all agreed, I think, that there is great potential to engage performing arts artists in archives; using the material for research or inspiration. The structure of the Bristol MA leads me to think of the exciting potential for artist residencies in archives. Recently en vogue in archives, these schemes can demonstrate to researchers by the development of new theatrical, dance or art works the diverse, creative potential of archival research.

Throughout the discussion great interest was expressed in documenting the creative process in new ways; obviously this is a key interest for ResCen and many of the delegates. When allowed, it is always stimulating to get a peek into rehearsals and to talk to the creative team; at the NT we’re resourced well enough to attempt to document the process (i.e. beyond accessioning rehearsal drafts, directors notes etc..) from time to time for publication (e.g. the ‘NT at Work’ series; the Stagework site www.stagework.org.uk) but whatever form they finally take these peeks are hugely time consuming and expensive; they cannot form a standard part of the documentation process. Someone suggested running a digital camera in the corner of a room, you may get permission from some groups but at what point does this activity transform the process into a product, how is your intrusion affecting the work? What do you expect to capture? Also someone has to edit that tape and provide supporting material to allow it a context; again time and cost.... Some theatre companies are increasingly interested in this area (e.g. Complicite) and with increasing familiarity with video technology and its use in productions this will probably increase but the onus must be on researchers to seek permissions and gather this material themselves. Some other groups have gone further in examining and attempting to capture on CD-Rom their own creative process; e.g. the Chameleons group at Nottingham Trent University, Chameleons2: Theatre in a Movie Screen [cd-rom]. Although their CD Rom is fascinating it is evident throughout that we are not watching the creative process but a version prepared for consumption.

Best Wishes, Gavin   [arrowreply]

   
  reply icon Re: Innovation in Learning – Claire Welsby, Thursday, May 11, 2006 at 15:50:33
   

Gavin – wow! – what an amazing piece of work – I don't think i can match it but i hope to add some form of food for thought...

As i remember it one of the themes discussed at length was improving collective knowledge of different archives, where they reside and who owns them. It was generally felt a better (higher/more collective) awareness of what's actually out there and where it's located would put potential users (institutions, companies, artists, learners and other individuals) in a better position to access material and information ˆ firstly they would know what they were looking for actually existed – and second they would know where to go and who to contact.

One of the suggestions was to initiate an emerging community of archive owners that would pool links to different archive holding organisations. The idea was this pool would grow over time as new representatives and organisations came on board – The challenge of this kind of resource would be in the tagging of information ˆ as these kind of databases get bigger – search functions must become increasingly sophisticated (i.e. not just dance, theatre and live art but artists, thematically, style, date, movement, location etc etc..).

I certainly agree that improving relationships between archives and HE sector through the increased integration of archive work within performance-based modules would be a good thing. How you go about this however would probably depend on whether the archive already sits in an HE environment or whether they are an external body. If it sits within HE already it seems there is more collatoral for arguning for increased integration – i'm thinking the 'value for money' strapline here.

If you an external archive then you're gonna be 1 of 2 things. 1 – publically funded OR 2 privatley owned. In these cases there is probably a larger onus on the archive for initiating the partnership as it's a 'nice to have' as opposed to 'must have/already got' for the HE institution (i.e. its probably not on there list of prioirties – or maybe not even something they've considered). In these cases the archive probably needs to get itself 'out there' and approach institutions they feel would benefit from and fit with their resouces.

A key thing for me re: the HE discussion is the issue around skills and professional practice in the context of the archive. Integrating archive work into HE modules isn't presumably as simple as making a partnership and getting on with it. You need inclination from both sides, skills and knowledge to formulate appropriate modules and the time and resources (people, facilities and support info) to enable such a programme to run effectivley. This is all time and money.

LAST THING - i promise
I think one of the key question archives need to ask is what they want their archive to be used for. (This doesn't and shouldn't be a one function answer). The answers i imagine would be tied closely to how that institution, company, individual is funded. If it's publically funded then there is a strong argument to have some form of outreach programme as well as a precence on the net. if you're tied to a university then students and academic research are presumably your priority.

Last thing - i promise.
As you know – one of the areas i'm particularly interested in is how new media technologies and the internet might facilitate partnership making, sharing of information and resources (hyperlinks and online databases etc) and the recording and presentation of archive materials. Something that's becoming increasingly clear though is 'websites' and/or digital precence are certainly not the answer to all 'archive prayers.' Like all solutions it lends itself better to some functions, aims and objectives than others >> a whole new debate in itself..!

Phewww! >> i hope this stirs up some more thinking..

C ;-)   [arrowreply]

     

   
post icon Digital collections in performing arts subject areas
– Daisy Abbott, Thursday, May 4, 2006 at 14:43:17
 

I have put a draft version of my list of online collections covering performing arts subject areas up at http://www.ahds.ac.uk/performingarts/online%20collections_4may.pdf (this link should work as of 5th May as our site is updated overnight).

Please could you have a look at it and point out any omissions or errors that you can see. I've emailed Backstage to hopefully get some assistance in making sure the list is as comprehensive as possible.

Feel free to use this list for your own use, but please don't copy or reference the data at this stage – it's just a draft and the completed AHDS report will be out within a couple of months which you can reference all you like!

Many thanks, Daisy   [arrowreply]

   
  reply icon Re: Digital collections in performing arts subject areas
– Daisy Abbott, Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 13:54:29
   

My link above is now working, sorry about the delay. Daisy   [arrowreply]

     
  reply icon Re: Digital collections in performing arts subject areas
– Claire Welsby, Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at 10:26:56
   

Great stuff Daisy,

I also have a pool of links (albeit unorganised) to resources focused around live art performance, contemporary dance and new media sector. I would happily go through these and sort the wheat from the chaff if people would find it helpful. Not archives as such but definitly links to companies/artists work, articles, funding, professional development opps and other stuff...

I intend to sort it out somewhere down the line anyway – but I'd be happy to bring it forward if there’s a keen audience.   [arrowreply]

     
 
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