Being Successful Together
Participate, share, cooperate in safeguarding performing arts heritage
Nothing can be done alone in the field of performing arts. All theatrical productions need a team, a team which unites the work of performers, technicians and administrative staff for a common goal. Even a one man show needs teamwork. Conversely, one might think that in libraries, archives and museums, life revolves around only books, documents, and works of art. SIBMAS members know that the reality is very different and we are nothing without our colleagues, our partners and our public. It is the commonalities of our shared professional experiences and the collaborations that grow between our institutions that the 2018 Paris Conference will explore.
The theme of co-operation can be engaged with from a number of different perspectives:
Collections’ perspective – For a long time now, artists travel from one country to another and their passage may have left traces in various institutions. One can think of Sarah Bernhardt’s great tours, as well as Cirque du Soleil’s contemporary productions. Archives are sometimes broken up, as in the case for Edward Gordon Craig, Max Reinhardt or Ballets Suédois. How do we make accessible and comprehensible these materials kept by different professional bodies? Through exhibitions? By publication of collective inventories? Or online resource portals? Via simple referrals from one database to another? These are but a few of the challenges we face in the digital landscape, where large data reservoirs, search engines and digital libraries do not necessarily have the finesse to retrieve all relevant materials that are now expected by modern researchers working in the digital age.
Relations with users – Researchers, artists and the public at large can be considered as the second field of exploration and innovation in our theme of collaborative work. For a long time, the public has been kept away from our reflections on the patrimonial institutions’ services and practices. Our services may have been designed with a lot of care and with the best on intentions, but possibly not always with the input of users. Today, we have at our disposal many more tools that facilitate a working dialogue between the institution and the user. We can employ everything from simple public surveys to participatory projects, as well as the production and enrichment of data that provides multiple strategies and new opportunities to better reach our audiences. This being said, emerging ideas and ways of working could have repercussions for our jobs, especially in the field of the performing arts, where collections are multimedia in form and often complex to apprehend.
Partnerships – Is partnership a desired outcome for the future? The need to work together may become ever more important than before, whether through formal institutional partnerships between heritage organisations, artists, theatre companies, universities, libraries, and museums or even through partnerships with private companies as part of a sponsorship deal. Whether implemented informally, formally, locally, nationally or internationally, these co-operation agreements have strengths but also constraints. Are the results commensurate with the effort and results for undertaking such co-operation agreements? Not to mention the effect and consequences that can arise through collaborations imposed by cultural administrations or governments, with mergers of previously independent bodies?