New Zealand report
A Wikimedian at New Zealand Opera
Collaboration with an opera company opens up new possibilities
New Zealand Opera offices, Parnell, Auckland
In August I finished a stint as Wikipedian in Residence with New Zealand Opera – approximately two weeks of work spread over the last six months. More experienced GLAM Wikipedians are welcome to weigh in, but this seems to be the first time any opera company in the world has taken on a Wikipedian in Residence; certainly the first arts organisation in New Zealand to do so.
With the help of several volunteers 8 new articles were created, 14 more improved, 41 Wikidata items added and 14 improved, and nearly 200 photos of nine NZ Opera productions were added to Wikimedia Commons under an open licence. The photos are noteworthy, being by numerous professional photographers employed to take publicity photos of opera productions, usually at dress rehearsal, for publicity purposes. High-quality modern production photos of this type are hard to get, and it's a credit to New Zealand Opera that they were willing to release these to the Commons, and work with the photographers concerned to clear the image copyrights. These images have already found their way onto 76 pages or Wikidata items, viewed according to a GLAMorgan query by an estimated 100,000+ people a month. The article on The Turn of the Screw, for example (27,000 views/month) now uses a photo of the 2019 NZ Opera production. One set of backstage photos during a rehearsal of The Magic Flute have been used to illustrate new articles on people like soprano Madison Nonoa, director Sara Brodie, and costume designer Elizabeth Whiting, but they were also useful for articles about general topics like set and costume design.
This has also been a good case study for the value of collaborating with Wikipedia, with excellent feedback from the board and staff of New Zealand Opera. The message has been very clear that any arts organisation, literary festival, dance company, theatre group, or record label might be sitting on an archive of publications, press clippings, and photos and could do the same thing to improve the visibility of the arts in New Zealand. Currently I am drafting a grant proposal with NZ Opera to put their entire 21 years of productions into Wikidata, every performer and creative team member into Wikipedia, and photos from every show in Commons freely licensed for reuse. They would be the first opera company in the world to do this, and would create a repository of data and images that could enrich the coverage of opera throughout Wikipedia.
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