The National Theatre

Regular users may have noticed that a lot of data about the National Theatre has disappeared from Theatricalia. The National Theatre has required that Theatricalia remove information on performances sourced from their online archive, whilst we discuss this information being made freely available to the public via this site. I very much hope that you will have access to it again soon.

I always credit and link to the source of any data not added by a user of Theatricalia, not only to acknowledge its origin, but also so that those browsing Theatricalia can find the source archive, thereby leading to an increased visibility of the theatre’s activities. In my opinion, improvement of data sharing can only help the National and raise awareness of their archive. At the time that they emailed, the National’s archive was actually not working, so Theatricalia was the only place where the data was publicly available. The National was 35% publicly funded in 2008–09; it would be great to see such organisations following in the footsteps the government itself is starting to take with respect to open data.

Here are some brief excerpts from my original reply to them:

“I do obviously appreciate the effort that has gone into collating the information, and I would hope that you would agree that it is surely in both the interests of your institution, and the public, for publicly funded data to be made as available and accessible as possible.”

“Letting the data be available to all as widely as possible lets people discover the theatre and find new connections between the people and places included therein.”

“I am worried that demanding the removal of your data, and as a consequence user additions and corrections such as these, would not only not be in the public interest, or in the interest of the theatres which are receiving increased publicity through Theatricalia, but would send out a negative image to the public about national performing arts organisations preventing innovation against the interests of the people at large. This is especially pertinent when the institutions or data are funded by the public, and there is no commercial loss – and potentially revenue gain that would help your institutions.”

“Unlike your archives, my site is indexable by search engines, which will in turn again lead to more people discovering more about various actors and productions, your own archives and the theatrical history of your institutions – something about which I hope you would be pleased, given your educational and cultural remits.”

“The theatre is something I am passionate about, which is why I created Theatricalia.”

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