Performances, preservation and policy implications: digital curation and preservation awareness and strategy in the performing arts

Molloy, L. (2015) Performances, preservation and policy implications: digital curation and preservation awareness and strategy in the performing arts. In: Digital Preservation for the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DPASSH), Dublin, Ireland, 25-26 Jun 2015,

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Digital assets in contemporary performing arts practice are vulnerable to damage and disappearance, eroding prospects of a coherent record of contemporary practice and its place in our wider digital cultural heritage. This paper summarises a study that seeks to understand and assess this threat so that appropriate solutions – if necessary – can be scoped and provided in a way accessible both to the practitioner and the research and academic/training communities. A series of case studies was developed examining the digital curation and preservation awareness and practice of a sample of UK-based performing arts professionals. This approach provides a ‘practitioner’s-eye view’ of the types of digital objects used by this community; current curation strategies and activities; and the factors that influence digital curation and preservation decisions. This study establishes that digital objects are highly prized by the professional performance community. Accordingly, expectations of the survival of these digital objects are high, but investigation found that levels of sustainable digital curation and preservation practice are low. These findings support the argument that competent digital curation and preservation practice is relevant to the sustainability of a career in the performing arts, as well as of benefit to the arts researcher or student and cultural heritage more widely. These findings reveal the need for an effective response in order to mitigate the loss of digital cultural heritage in this professional sector. Preservation of the digital cultural objects that are created, shared and sought by performing arts practitioners is subject to the economic realities of professional practice and also constrained by current levels of practitioner digital curation awareness and competence. These skills are not yet routinely taught in practitioner training institutions. There is an urgent need i) to promulgate policies based on a sound knowledge of digital curation and preservation practices in the professional performing arts community; and ii) for a coherent strategy to develop practitioner knowledge and skills, and to deliver such training in language accessible to the community of practice. This paper describes the problem, my research approach, and my findings and recommendations, and is intended to be of interest to all those engaged in policy and skills development in communities of practice beyond the academy, particularly in the creative arts and cultural heritage domains.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Keywords:Digital preservation, digital curation, performing arts, cultural heritage, personal archiving strategies, community approaches to preservation, sustainability.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Molloy, Ms Laura
Authors: Molloy, L.
Subjects:C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CD Diplomatics. Archives. Seals > CD921 Archives
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Research Group:HATII
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Author
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the author

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