SIBMAS event on databases for performing arts (March 27, 2017) + an overview of PA databases

Today, I was present at an event on databases for performing arts, organised by SIBMAS in the framework of their new EXOSCENE program and the world-wide day of theater, hosted by La Bellone.

Lightbulb moments

Here are a couple of lightbulb moments that I think are shareable for a wider audience. Note that I could only join after lunch, so I missed the presentations of Bernhard Thull and Jenny Fewster.

Are you making sure your API will produce and consume Linked Open Data?

Jacques of Les Archives du Spectacle was confronted with this question, and of course indicated that he would look into it, — and he should — , but I liked Isabelles (Contredanse) remark that one can discuss for ages how to comply with standards and then suddenly observe that you are discussing for 10 years without tangible results.

Share your database software

Instead of making your own database and website and deal with all the technical hassle that is involved with that, just piggy back on somebody else’s database. As an example, IbsenStage is a fantastic resource, and I think this is partly due to the fact that they do not need to worry about database, software and other technical stuff — like I have to do. They are simply reusing AusStage for their data. In the same spirit, Flanders Arts Institute is sharing the database software with Contredanse!

Work towards a non-technical result

This one I got while discussing with Staf Vos: many people around the table are excited about databases, linked data, data collection, etc. But with these more technical things, you do not convince a wider audience that you are doing something useful — in these neoliberal times were everything we do needs to be useful. Accepting this, we could work towards tangible projects and create valuable insights that appeal to non-technical people.

Overview of performing arts databases

This is undoubtly incomplete, and please let me know who I forgot on, I am sure I am forgetting many initiatives (online databases that can be searched for performers, or stage productions/performances):

Flanders Arts Institute, this is also providing links for the Theater aan Zee archives.


L’Annuaire du spectacle, this is also providing data for other websites via a plugin, see e.g. Rideau de BruxellesTheatre de Poche, and Theatre de Liege.



Les Archives du Spectacle for France


Australia baby for Poland

Sirrka Database

Circus in Finland

Virtual Study

ViS for Czech republic

Czech Performance Collection also for the Czech republic!

Dance Info

Finnish dance website

TIN collectie

At University of Amsterdam they maintain the old Theater Instituut Nederland database.


Norwegian theatre productions


Archive of performances of Greek and Rome drama

Belgium is happening

Belgium is Happening currently holds ca. 1400 records of experimental/avant-garde performance events from 1958 up to the 1990s.


Voormalige TIN productiedatabank: De Theaterencyclopedie is het levende platform met informatie over het heden en verleden van theater in Nederland. Ook beschikbaar via Universiteit van Amsterdam.


Operabase is a commercial actor, but nonetheless holds a fantastic amount of information about “big” operahouses, in a neatly structured way.

World Theater Map


Next to databases that are specific to countries or types of performance (dance, greek drama, etc.), there are also a lot of initiatives to make a database of performances specific to a house, organisation or author. Some pretty great examples are Ballets C de la BAbbey theatreIbsenStage and many more (but here we focus on databases beyond a single author, house or organisation)!