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The nature of performing arts and its heritage

The heritage includes a complex range of materials and formats:

  • Scripts and scores including original author manuscripts, rehearsal versions, stage management versions, published editions

  • Designs, drawings for sets, costumes, lighting

  • Artefacts and three dimensional objects including: Set models, Costumes, Properties, Scenery, painted back cloths, Furniture, Lights

  • Printed and published material much of it ephemeral in nature such as programs, advertising flyers, subscription brochures, posters, invitations, newspaper clippings and reviews

  • Audio-visual formats: Films, videos: Sound recordings, tapes


Performing arts events occur at all levels of Australian society - local, state, national - as well as on the international stage. They can be conducted on an amateur basis, or within the framework of an education system, by state subsidized companies, or by commercial companies.

They can be any one of a number of genres or a mixture of several - drama, comedy, opera, musical theatre, chamber music, orchestral music, choral music, rock music, street theatre, puppetry, circus, vaudeville, television, film, video, radio.

They can take place in a traditional proscenium theatre, a converted space, outdoors, in a tent, in a sports stadium anywhere!


In addition to the complexity of the performing arts scene, the transitory nature of any theatrical, musical, or audiovisual performance makes the task of documenting it and collecting it particularly difficult.


Members of PAHN recognise the fact that no one institution can collect comprehensively in the performing arts. A distributed national collection of Australia’s performing arts heritage is a necessity.