Event data?! Kick-off for the Performing Arts Forum in the Integrated Authority File (GND)


On 28 January 2022, the digital kick-off event for establishing a Performing Arts Forum in the GND took place, which was jointly organised by the task area "Standards, Data Quality and Curation" (Task Area 2), the working group ARCHIV of the Society for Theatre Studies, the German National Library (DNB), the Specialist Information Service for performing arts (FID DK), the Institute for Theatre Studies at the University of Leipzig, the Theatre Museum Düsseldorf and the Berlin State Library. The Integrated Authority File (GND) is managed by the German National Library (DNB) and is intended to enable research institutions as well as archives, collections and museums to reference entities such as persons, institutions, geographic information, work titles and subject-specific terms (keywords) in a permanent and unique manner.

After welcoming almost 100 participants, the introduction to the topic focused on how the performing arts community could contribute to expanding the cultural segment of the GND. For this purpose, it was particularly important to ask for the community‘s specific needs and wishes.

In the course of the event, the topic of indexing event data in the GND was examined from different perspectives. First, Patrick Primavesi (Leipzig University) and Alexandra Portmann (University of Bern) explained how the change in understanding of theatre and its corresponding practices over time has affected the metadata as well as the standardisation of terms such as staging and production. This led to the question of how flexible a data model needs to be in order to use it for documenting such processes in a meaningful way? Michaela Scheibe and Friederike Willasch (both Berlin State Library) then presented common data models for recording event announcements, using the example of a playbill as a manifestation in the Union Catalogue to highlight their limitations. Another aspect of the indexing process for event data was presented by Julia Beck and Franziska Voß (both Frankfurt University Library) from the Specialist Information Service Performing Arts (FID DK). Here, heterogeneous data from different sources are aggregated, modelled and, if necessary, enriched in order to offer a more structured starting point for searches. Authority files play an essential role in linking the different data holdings within the FID DK and make it possible to generate networks that had not yet been visible when the data was collected in the individual institutions. The last and missing perspective from the GND was presented by Renate Behrens and Chantal Köppl (both from the Standardisation Unit at the DNB). The presentations explained different possibilities and approaches on how the performing arts community can actively participate by indexing event data in the GND.

Following the lectures, breakout sessions provided room to discuss how the exchange between collection and research can be improved in the future, as well as which authority files and structures would be required for bothe areas.

Looking back to this successful opening event, it became clear that there is an immense need, yet at the same time also a great willingness among the forum participants to collaborate in the future. The exchange will continue on 16th May 2022 through the workshop "Using the GND" with specific use cases. Future plans also include regular meetings in order to develop data models for the performing arts, linking the community to the GND by forming interest groups, developing and setting up a staging or production database, and stronger networking between artists, producing institutions as well as committees and associations.

The detailed report and materials from the event can be found on the website of the AG Archiv.