About GloPAC > History of GloPAC
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The Global Performing Arts Consortium (GloPAC) was conceived in the fall of 1997 by Karen Brazell when she recognized the tremendous possibilities offered by Internet technology for the study of the performing arts. Brazell sought out like-minded individuals and institutions to help shape an organization that would exploit new technologies to provide broad and innovative access to the diversity and depth of the world's performing arts. In the summer of 1998, Brazell invited Peter Hirtle, then co-director of the Cornell Institute for Digital Collections; the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre (GSRT) of New York City; Ann Ferguson, then curator of Cornell's Theatre Collections; and Cornell's East Asia Program to join forces in forming a group that ultimately evolved into GloPAC.

GloPAC Timeline
> 1997
> 1999
> 2000
> 2002
> 2004
> 2006
> 2008
> 2010

In 1999, relying on student assistants funded by Cornell University Library and the East Asia Program, these original partners created a prototype performing arts database. In addition, Brazell, Monica Bethe, and student assistants developed GloPAC's first Performing Arts Resource Center (PARC), an interactive Web-based learning module focused on the performing arts of Japan (www.glopac.org/Jparc). At the same time, the Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre began developing new PARC tools and design elements through their implementation of a website devoted to the life and work of Vsevolod Meyerhold (www.meyerhold.org).

Trip to Russia
Photo: Karen Brazell

Broadening GloPAC's reach, Brazell traveled to Singapore, Japan, and Vietnam in 2000, recruiting performing arts groups to GloPAC and collecting more images for what is now called the Global Performing Arts Database (GloPAD), with special assistance from Lim Beng Choo (National University of Singapore). In July 2000, a group of GloPAC representatives—led by Cheryl Faver (GSRT) and Nikolai Pesochinsky (GloPAC Russia Regional Director)—met in Russia for discussions with museum staff at the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music and the A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum in Moscow. This trip, supported by the Trust for Mutual Understanding, initiated valuable cross-cultural discussions about the direction and development of GloPAC's projects. That same year, GloPAC welcomed two new institutional members, the Max Reinhardt Archives at Binghamton University and the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at Columbia University. During 2000 and 2001, GloPAC also made important advances in the development of GloPAD, as evidenced by a move to a new database platform and the addition of significant content by GloPAC members.

In October 2002 Cornell University Library, on behalf of GloPAC, was awarded a $470,000 three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to develop and test metadata standards for the performing arts. The San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music, and the University of Washington Libraries joined with GloPAC as partners in this project. The grant also funded the digitization of 2,000 new items from the performing arts collections of the grant partners and other participants, the creation of descriptive records based on the new metadata structure, and the design of a series of tools that can be readily adaptable by museums, libraries, and scholarly associations for use in developing their own digital performing arts resources.

GloPAC's membership continues to grow as more people learn about the organization and its projects. National University of Singapore's Department of Japanese Studies became an active partner in 2004. During the following year, the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa joined the consortium, as did the Nogami Memorial Noh Research Institute at Hosei University in Tokyo, which sent Professors Reiko Yamanaka and Steven Nelson to Cornell for a week-long working session with GloPAC staff.

In 2005 GloPAC began planning for the development of its Performing Arts Resource Centers (PARCs). A conference entitled Developing an On-line Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center, funded by the Japan Foundation, was held at the National University of Singapore in June. Scholars from Singapore, Japan, Russia, Malaysia, and the United States met to share ideas for a more robust and sophisticated Japan PARC. A workshop for K-12 educators, held at Cornell University in September, brought together teachers, librarians, and outreach coordinators from throughout the United States to discuss how the performing arts could be more effectively used in education and how to employ GloPAD and other tools developed by GloPAC to create a PARC designed for teens and their educators.


JPARC conference participants and supporters in front of the Merlion in Singapore
Photo: Joshua Young

Building on the Singapore conference GloPAC in conjunction with the Cornell University East Asia Program applied for, and was awarded in May 2006, a two-year NEH Grant for Teaching and Learning Resourses and Curriculum Development for the development of a multilingual, collaborative Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center (JPARC). The grant called for the creation of twelve media-rich topical modules authored by scholars in the history and performance of noh, the Bunraku puppet theatre, famous playwrights, theatre illustrations, as well as authoritative reference resources of a bibliography of translations of Japanese plays, time lines of significant events in Japanese theatre, and an annotated glossary of terms. However, the critical focus of the project was to build the infrastructure for an extendable site where scholars of the Japanese performing arts could have the technical tools and resources to author and publish multi-media work in a multilingual and collaborative environment. See the project abstract or the grant narrative for a full explanation of the project.

JPARC editors, March 2008
March 2008 JPARC Editors' Workshop
Ithaca, New York

During 2006 GloPAC focused on designing JPARC as a site of collaborative scholarly work, collecting new digital materials for use in JPARC, and improving the GloPAD interfaces to allow interaction between the Resource Center site and the database. GloPAD was enhanced with a new multilingual search function allowing searches in non-roman scripts, a new series record type to display ordered sets of images, and a more robust vocabulary editor on the Editor Interface so that the many authority lists of vocabulary could be more efficiently handled.

In 2007 the initial content sections of the new JPARC were built out by a team of scholars working from across the globe. The open-source software platform Drupal was adopted to allow editors to access the site and work online using editing tools integrated into the site. Materials used in modules on JPARC are stored in the database so that each piece of media has its own database record in addition to the contexts in which it is used on JPARC. Integration between JPARC and GloPAD include selective browse features such as bilingual indexes of Japanese piece titles and performer names that can be sorted by the performing art tradition and other criteria.

The new Japanese Performing Arts Resource Center was released for public viewing in 2008. Over the course of the development project over 1500 new digital objects were added to GloPAD with extensive information in English and Japanese. Both JPARC and GloPAD continue to grow with the involvement of individuals and institutions.

In 2010, with the support of the Toshiba International Foundation and Cornell University's East Asia Program, GloPAC hosted a performance and workshop of techniques in kabuki dance with the dance master Bandō Kotoji. Filming both the performance and the workshop with multiple, high-definition cameras, GloPAC used the footage as the basis for a new JPARC section on Kabuki Dance Techniques where the fundamentals of this important art are introduced in a rich, multi-media manner. This project is an example of the kind of work that the JPARC platform allows.

October 2010 Kabuki Dance Performance
Ithaca, New York

GloPAC Timeline: 1997 - 1999 - 2000 - 2002 - 2004 - 2006 - 2008 - 2010