Tracing Dutch music heritage: a new initiative of Sound and Vision is creating a portal for the rich digital heritage of music and the performing arts in the Netherlands

portrait of Monique in het Veld
23 August 2021

Polifonia is building a knowledge graph for European musical heritage. In the Netherlands, the new platform is doing the same thing for music and the broader performing arts. Here’s an interesting interview with Monique in het Veld, the manager of this exciting project (for the original version in Dutch by Ronald de Nijs on the Digital Heritage Network, see here):

A Portal Where The Performing Arts present their Heritage Together

With a degree in film and theater studies, Monique in het Veld not only worked in the world of (film) theater, but she also looked at Java and web applications through an ICT lens for several years. ‘That’s what I call my nerdy side,’ she says with a laugh. ‘And that knowledge comes in handy with what I call our dot on the horizon: a portal where the performing arts present their heritage together.’

In setting up this platform, Monique has in mind examples like and Van Gogh Worldwide. ‘In the future, large and small cultural institutions will exchange their digital heritage material via a common infrastructure. We are now looking for an information architect to determine what that infrastructure will look like. In doing so, we are in line with the work that has already been done in the Digital Heritage Network and for the Digital Heritage Reference Architecture (DERA).’

Making New Connections with Linked Open Data

Between now and four years from now, the first institutions will share their material via the platform, although the platform will not be completely finished by then, Monique expects. ‘It is more important that the performing arts institutions and companies know that they can join in and above all: that they (will) see its added value.’

Even though this platform is still in the future, all activities within are the way to get there. Take the music world, for example, there is all the necessary digital heritage material. ‘We are looking with partners in the field at how connections can be made with linked open data.’

A Need for Legacy

Since the launch of at the end of December 2021, all kinds of activities have started. For example, an issue of Theaterkrant (theatre newspaper) Magazine was published in March. It was made with and about The Need for Legacy, a network that focuses on raising awareness of the breadth and diversity of Dutch theater history. ‘Young theater makers with a diverse cultural or migration background have difficulty accessing the work of their predecessors,’ explains Monique. ‘We are now taking the first steps – together with the field – to make it more accessible.”

Also nice to mention: guest curator Sanne Thierens is making an exhibition about the musicals of Annie M.G. schmidt. Sanne’s book was recently published on the occasion of this – postponed by corona – exhibition about the writer, Mjoeziekul. and DEN Knowledge Institute Culture & Digital Transformation also help the Netherlands Bach Society to digitize and visualize its archives. They also work together on the legacy of composer Louis Andriessen. ‘This is about safeguarding his archives, but also about new versions of his work,” says Monique.’

Inspiring Artists for New Works

Because is not just about archiving: the heritage must remain alive. ‘We hope it inspires people and that they will reuse it. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if work by playwrights and composers that became available could soon be seen and heard on stage again in a contemporary or idiosyncratic arrangement?’

Photo: Monique in het Veld

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement N. 101004746