AusStage is building a data set of live events with dramatic content covering all of Australia. Our researchers have designed the database to be both extensive and inclusive. They have also defined the scope of the data set in the following ways:
The core record is the live event - a distinct happening, defined by title, date/s and venue; typically, a performance or series of performances at a venue. A venue is also broadly defined as a place where an event happens - a building, a tent, an outdoor environment, a locality. The year of the event is required; full dates for first performance, last performance, and opening night may be recorded. We also gather factual information about the organisations involved in conceiving, producing or presenting events, the individuals who contribute in various ways to events, and the material artefacts, textual records and digital traces that form the documentary evidence of live events.
AusStage includes performances in a wide range of genres: spoken-word theatre, ballet and dance, music theatre and opera, circus and puppetry, stand-up comedy, physical theatre and cabaret. We have not set out to cover music-only events (concerts, recitals, rock bands, etc.), but some music events are included where they form part of a program collection. AusStage distinguishes between the live performance at a venue, and recordings of live performance that are accessed elsewhere. Audio-visual recordings, radio broadcasts and television transmissions are entered as resources that relate to a live event.
AusStage includes performances of dramatic works made and presented in Australia. AusStage also includes Australian productions of works written by international authors, productions from overseas companies touring Australia, and some performances by Australian artists and companies presented in venues outside Australia. The AusStage data set reflects a metropolitan bias in the geographic distribution of performing arts activities: venues for live performance are often situated at the centre of population settlements. Regional coverage reflects areas of research interest - notably Newcastle, Broken Hill and Wollongong (NSW), Kalgoorlie/Coolgardie (WA), Launceston (Tas), and northern Australia (QLD/NT).
Coverage is extensive for the years of prospective data entry from 2001 to the present, and for the years 1986 to 1996 for which data were sourced from the Australian and New Zealand Theatre Record. Retrospective data entry reflects the extent of performing arts collections, and the research interests and energies of the AusStage community. Data entry on the capital cities, particularly Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, is strongest from the 1950s onwards. Coverage of the nineteenth and late eighteenth centuries is not yet extensive.The earliest event recorded in AusStage is The Recruiting Officer, performed in a mud-wall hut in Sydney on 4 June 1789.
AusStage includes performances by professional, amateur, pro-am, co-operatives, training schools and colleges, community theatres, and youth theatres. Our sustainability strategy places an emphasis on professional production and government-funded organisations. Professional training schools and colleges are targeted by tracking graduate networks and campaigns to encourage feedback from artists on their own records. Amateur, community, and youth theatres are targeted through outreach, promoting AusStage to organisations and training volunteers to undertake data entry.
The members of the Performing Arts Heritage Network of Museums Australia contribute actively to the development of AusStage. Retrospective data entry has drawn on many collections, including the Prompt Collection at the National Library of Australia, the Wolanski collection at University of New South Wales Library, the Seaborn Broughton and Walford Foundation Archives and Performing Arts Collection, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre Museum Collection, and the University of Adelaide Library Special Collections and University Archive.
AusStage continues to be developed in terms of database technology, breadth of data, user interface and server technology. We continue to review and refine the methods used to gather information, and our researchers continue to fill gaps, extend coverage and standardise records. Care is taken to ensure that information entered into AusStage is correct, however no responsibility is taken for errors or omissions in the data. The AusStage data set is extensive, but it is not yet comprehensive. Researchers wishing to use AusStage data for statistical analyses are advised to contact the Project Manager.