Performing Arts in the Coronavirus Web Archive: Part 3

In Part 1 of this series, I walked readers through Coronavirus Web Archive items within the theme of financial relief efforts in the performing arts. Part 2 of this series highlighted collection items related to medical and public health initiatives specific to performing arts communities. This post features archived performance directories, calendars, and listings from the pandemic.

Did you ever want to know how many times a particular ensemble or soloist performed in a certain city during a specific date range?

Now, think about how you find the answer. Do you use indexes, bibliographies, subject-focused lists, old concert programs, personal papers, databases, and other tools?

The Coronavirus Web Archive contains similar resources for what the performing arts world was creating, promoting, and making available during the darkest pandemic days of 2020-2021. What makes these resources unique is that they were created for the Web – there isn’t a print equivalent.

First, let’s explore a sample of new URLs – the web addresses themselves – that were created during the pandemic.

The League of American Orchestras created Symphony Spot to serve as a directory of League member orchestras’ online programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Orchestras range from local to internationally-known ensembles. The online directory was active from April 2020 to September 2021. The evidential and research values of this directory are immense. The web archives demonstrate how the listings grew and changed over the course of the crawls, which orchestras had resources to participate in virtual programming, and the fact that this was a new URL created during the pandemic (https://symphonyspot.org/).

Screen shot of the Austin Symphony Orchestra listing on Symphony Spot from the web archive

Screen shot of the Austin Symphony Orchestra (Austin, Texas) listing on Symphony Spot from a July 1, 2020 capture

An archived website that documents a specific musical genre is Live from Clarksdale. The new URL (https://www.livefromclarksdale.org) was created in March 2020. During the pandemic, Live from Clarksdale (Clarksdale, Mississippi) presented daily livestreams of Delta blues artists. It also hosted the Mississippi Delta’s annual Juke Joint Festival online for the first time as the Virtual Juke Joint Festival. The web archive includes weekly concert calendars of performers and indicates the streaming platforms performers utilized, such as Facebook and Instagram. The livestreams are not part of the web archive; this website’s utility as a documentation tool is the list of performers and their mode of presentation.

Another new URL is for the academic side of the performing arts, Colloquium: Music Scholarship at a Distance. This was a virtual colloquium for music scholars to maintain a sense of community and share research that was originally to be presented at conferences cancelled due to COVID-19. The livestreams are not in the web archive, but the list of speakers, titles of their presentations, and proof that they all joined together over the internet, is. The website is no longer available on the live Web.

Screen shot of Colloquium: Music Scholarship at a Distance’s listings from the web archive

Screen shot of Colloquium: Music Scholarship at a Distance’s listings from a May 19, 2020 capture

What about existing URLs that document the activities in local music scenes during the pandemic?

Screenshot of the Sidewalk Serenades listings page from the web archive

Screenshot of the Sidewalk Serenades listings page captured on June 2, 2020

The Creative Alliance, an arts organization in Baltimore, Maryland founded in 1995, created Sidewalk Serenades, a series of socially distanced performances that financially supported Baltimore performing artists and artistically enriched Baltimore residents from March 20, 2020 through May 29, 2021. Residents signed up and paid for short performances outside their houses and apartment buildings. The archived pages from within the Creative Alliance website serve as listings for a local music scene with dates and names of artists. New Haven Arts on Call in New Haven, Connecticut was modeled on the Baltimore series. The web archives include participating artists’ names, head shots, and performance summaries. The URL for this initiative is no longer available on the live Web, but it is preserved in the Coronavirus Web Archive as historical evidence.

Another example of genre-specific listings is The Alternate Root: Touring in Place. The Alternate Root, an online magazine based in California, frequently updated listings of social isolation concerts and events by roots and Americana musicians. The listings end on July 2, 2021. You can hover your mouse over the “link” to the livestream to find out what online platforms the performers used at the time.

Remember, these web archives are a sample from the Coronavirus Web Archive, and a drop in the bucket in the context of the performing arts Web at large. How do you think you can use preserved performance listings in the Coronavirus Web Archive for research and learning?

Stay tuned for the final post in this series!

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