News > Taking Bold Steps to Foster Digital Collaboration in the Live Performing Arts

Taking Bold Steps to Foster Digital Collaboration in the Live Performing Arts

February 4, 2019 – CAPACOA and its partners are launching a vast digital literacy and transformation initiative for the performing arts sector. Building off of shared metadata strategies and prototypes, the Linked Digital Future initiative will seek to evolve radically new collaboration mindsets in the arts.

Thanks to the generous support from the Government of Canada, through the Canada Cultural Investment Fund, the Linked Digital Future initiative will take bold steps to assist the sector in the digitization of the performing arts. This will involve:

  1. Action research to lay out and implement plans to increase the discoverability of the performing arts with the help of semantic technologies, powering a Linked Open Data ecosystem;
  2. Prototyping of applications in backbone data systems and development of new digital services; and,
  3. A coaching program and other digital literacy services to provide timely assistance to arts organizations as they seek to address business problems with digital solutions.

“This initiative will both enable the performing arts sector to collectively bridge the discoverability gap, and will create a fertile digital ground for further collaborative initiatives.”

— Frédéric Julien, Director of Research and Development at CAPACOA.

“This investment will support the Canadian Arts Presenting Association’s initiative that will make it easier for Canadians to discover performing artists and find live performances at their fingertips. Projects like this promote our culture, contribute to the economic vitality of the arts industry, and enrich the lives of Canadians.”

— The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism

The Linked Digital Future initiative will count on the support of many partners throughout the country. RIDEAU (QC) and Culture Creates (QC) will lead the prototyping and development activities. The coaching program and digital literacy services will be delivered on a regional basis by the Atlantic Presenters Association (PE), Mass Culture (ON) and the BC Alliance for Arts + Culture (BC). The action research activities will be conducted by a team of Linked Open Data experts associated with the Bern University of Applied Sciences. The initiative is overseen by an advisory committee, which is comprised of:

  • Jean-Robert Bisaillon, President and Founder, iconoclaste musique inc. – metaD – TGiT
  • Clément Laberge, independent consultant, education, culture and technology
  • Margaret Lam, Founder, BeMused Network
  • Tammy Lee, CEO, Culture Creates
  • Marie-Pier Pilote, Responsable des projets et du développement numérique, RIDEAU

The Linked Digital Future initiative is funded in part by the Government of Canada.



The Canadian Arts Presenting Association/l’Association canadienne des organismes artistiques (CAPACOA) serves the performing arts touring and presenting community through its commitment to integrate the performing arts into the lives of all Canadians. CAPACOA fosters skills development, knowledge sharing, policy advancement, collaboration and innovation within the performing arts community and society at large.

The problem: Digitizing the intangible live performance

CAPACOA has been playing an active and leading role with its Digital Innovation Council in identifying, investigating and supporting the performing arts sector in its digital transformation.

 The 1st phase of the Digital Innovation Council focused on consultation and research activities that resulted in the publication ofDigitizing the Performing Arts: An Assessment of Opportunities, Issues and Challenges in April 2017. This report identified that successful business models in the digital world rely on scale and are centred on data. It also brought attention to the growing discoverability gap arising from the evolution of recommendation and search technologies (including virtual personal assistants), whose performance is dependent upon semantic technologies (i.e. metadata connected as Linked Open Data). Consequently, the report proposed as a next step that the Canadian not-for-profit performing arts sector develop and implement a comprehensive data and metadata strategy that will both enhance the discoverability of performing arts events and build a new culture of collaboration.

These consultation and research activities also made it clear that the digitization of the performing arts isn’t (at least, not exclusively) about building new platforms and uploading new contents on the web. Digitization of the performing arts is first and foremost about adopting new strategies, and ultimately new mindsets that are adapted to contemporary consumer behaviours, to the new dynamics of the digital economy, and to the dictates of search and recommendation technologies. This is particularly true of the performing arts. The output of the performing arts is non-material and non-digital. It is an intangible collective experience, whose primary attributes and constraints – time and space – are non-constraints in the digital world. Unless we provide machines with means to make sense of it, the live performance experience runs the risk of being overshadowed by the mass of more readily findable, discoverable and shareable cultural contents.

For more information, consult the description of the Linked Digital Future initiative or contact Frédéric Julien.


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