I do think Performing Arts is an outdated term if it’s meant to apply to the entertainment industry in general.

Chris wrote: “So many of you seem to dwell in an a-historical, pre-Darwinian universe where we are back with Aristotle and static things like the Great Chain of Being.  What do you make of things like industrialization, modernization, secularization; of ‘one thing leads to another?’”

I think you have to be conscious of what the purpose of cataloging is. It is practical, not theoretical. In other words, it is to help people find books. The categories we use to organize them will of course be more helpful the more they correspond to the real nature of things, but they don’t have to be absolutely perfect.

Chris, in a past posting you suggested that catalogers and archivists might be wise to part ways. You seemed to say that archivists have much more rigorous standards and attention to detail. But as a person who also has training in history, it seems you may be missing the distinction between primary and secondary sources. Archives collect primary sources, libraries mainly collect secondary sources. Primary sources are better for giving you the facts, and secondary sources, for giving you a broad picture of things. I doubt many library theorists have ever expected libraries to take you directly from secondary sources to the facts in primary sources. That’s the job of the researcher to look for relevant primary sources after she gets a good overview of her subject.

To go back to Performing Arts, it seems that term has gotten so out of sync with usage that today, it’s probably not useful to everyone who does research on the entertainment industry. I think Chris is right that there is an “industrial” element that it doesn’t cover well.

Ted Gemberling

UAB Lister Hill Library



From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Noble, Richard
Sent: Friday, June 24, 2016 8:39 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Entertainment industry


As to the question of "split files": Doesn't "Entertainment industry" actually encapsulate a relatively recent cultural phenomenon, especially as to its multiplicity of media and the very use of the word "industry" by its practitioners?


There may be some worth in allowing subject access terminology to track the writing (etc.) of its day, allowing for the fact that some terminology may become offensive over time as it appears intended to maintain the respectability of old and still nasty prejudice. 


BROWN UNIVERSITY  ::  PROVIDENCE, R.I. 02912  ::  401-863-1187

<[email protected]own.edu>


On Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 5:48 PM, Wilson, Pete <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

I don’t think we can substitute for “Entertainment industry” by using some other heading plus “Management.” 


If there were a heading “Entertainment industry,” it could itself be subdivided by “Management.”  The scope note for “Management” makes this clear:  “use … under types of industries …”


How, then, can some other heading plus “Management” be used in lieu of “Entertainment industry?”  It doesn’t make sense.


Pete Wilson

Vanderbilt University


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Chris Baer
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 3:17 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Entertainment industry


I must disagree.  It is broad-brush, soft-focus, lowest-common-denominator description of the kind that should have specialists climbing the walls.  In a way, that is what most free-floating subdivisions do.


Note that “Recreation” can encompass private,  loosely-structured activities such as hiking, having a cookout or just sunbathing in the yard.  “Recreation—Management” suggest things like camp counselors and recreation directors on cruise ships or role-playing murder mystery dinners, not Disney envisioning and building EPCOT.  It completely misses the point that the salient things about theme parks and their ilk is that they are organized on an industrial basis.  That is they involve things like maximizing throughput and integrating multiple related activities to strive for economies of scale and scope, e.g., the video, the ride, the action figure, the poster, etc., etc., we’ve got it all.  If you don’t know what scale and scope and horizontal and vertical/backwards and forwards integration are, you are not adept at business.  I would not pretend to offer opinions on transliteration from the Russian, but I do have credentials in business and technological history.  I am encouraged by the fact that there are people out there who are also insisting upon precision in matters of religious and theological terminology, and I understand where they are coming from.


The thing that really bugs me as a trained historian is that so many of you seem to dwell in an a-historical, pre-Darwinian universe where we are back with Aristotle and static things like the Great Chain of Being.  What do you make of things like industrialization, modernization, secularization; of “one thing leads to another?”


Let’s look at evolution at work in the three phrases under consideration:


“Performing arts” by its very words means we are looking at the art of performance and the artistry of the performer.  It says nothing much about motive or organization, which leaves open the interpretation that, unmodified, it is an end in itself, something that can be done for personal enjoyment, religious duty, tips on the street corner or whatever.  The “arts” implies that they are something one learns by way of extended tutelage under an established, mentoring artist.  From an evolutionary perspective, the concept “performing arts” IS somewhat archaic, that is, slow to lose its basic contours.  I would guess that this is due in large part to the primacy of the human body, whether speaking, singing, dancing, miming, etc.   Biological evolution is slow enough that the body has not changed that much over millennia.  In that respect, “performing arts” are like sharks, a “primitive” form of fish that has kept the same basic, recognizable body plan for well over 100 million years.   Contrast that with the speed of cultural and technological evolution and now augmenting the natural body with ever-more elaborate devices eventually creates what amounts to a whole new category, as in how some specific fish evolved into amphibians.  Consider all the growing number of  special devices that have given rise to the new category “extreme sports” within recent memory.  At some point in the distant human past, “extreme sports” and “performing arts” may have shared some common ancestral trait, but no longer.


“Show business” breaks down the same way.  It is no longer about “performing” but “show”; no longer about “art” but “business.”  We can see the one emerging from the other at least as early as Shakespeare’s time, where one is admitted to a closed venue by paying a fee to see an artfully contrived “show.”  “Show business” is beginning to evolve out of private aristocratic entertainments, civic and religious festivals, and the like, including things like May Day and Mardi Gras.  However, “show business” does not evolve into a mature form until sometime in the late 18th and 19th centuries, when there are preconditions such as a greater number of urban audiences, improvements in transportation and communications (e.g., newspaper ads).   Furthermore, “show business” involves more than the performing arts, and the “business” aspect is equal with the “show.”  Circuses, freak shows, sideshows, exhibits of grotesques and curiosities or fabricated frauds like perpetual motion machines, are all shown in the name of business.  P. T. Barnum was not into performing arts but was definitely into show business.  Remember Barnum started with a “museum” of curiosities before getting into traveling circuses.  People like Barnum and other impresarios did not come from the conservatory but from selling other sorts of things.  It would be a stretch to consider such gruesome exhibits as dancing headless chickens, the corpse of an obese girl whose needy family sold it to a sideshow, or the homemade guillotine that figured in a notorious local suicide (all to be found as filler in papers as august as the New York Times) as “performing artists,” but as the saying goes, “That’s show biz.”


As I wrote originally, an “entertainment industry” evolves when “show business” is crossed with new technologies and habits developed elsewhere to produce entertainment on an industrial scale.  But just as an ecosystem can contain fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, all three can and do coexist in an evolutionary world.   The “performing arts” certainly exist in their own niche, although the highbrow or high-status ones are usually supported by subscriptions and endowments from elites, if no longer from aristocratic courts, or else they are connected with the schools where artists are trained.  “Show business” continues to exist, although the term is falling out of use, in things like small-scale traveling carnivals and Renaissance faires and Halloween fright-fests that are not organized on an industrial basis.  Even allowing for the growing obsolescence of the term, it continues to exist the records of the past, the same way that phrenology does, so in that sense, it is still with us. That is what I meant about these things being parallel classes, not a single bead on the Great Chain of Being.


As to the second part of the last point, I think there is too much sticking with trying to stuff new things into the same old lexicographal box until it finally breaks, and then everything is swept up and put in a new box, until that breaks in turn.  I think you have gotten too cozy with those body-centric, word-centric, imagination-centric abstractions that change little: prose/poerty, comedy/tragedy, song/dance, homes and haunts, law and legislation, and that leaves those of us who deal with explaining rapid cultural and technological evolution, especially when embodied in concrete material culture, in the lurch, and not well-served.


Chris Baer

Hagley Museum and Library


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Founders.ILL
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 12:10 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Entertainment industry


Performing arts: Management; incorporates the business aspects of the arts adeptly.  I would think theme parks and other venues in which performing art talent is used  as niche market within it would have another descriptor.  Such as "Recreation" and Recreation: managament"   In the matter of Time Warner, Universal Studios, etc... Multimedia arts would still be performing arts and its management. 


I don't think Performing Arts is archaic...however,  I do think if something can not be described because it does not fit into the lexicon then there is reason for novation.      


Marcus Haynes

From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Chris Baer <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, June 23, 2016 10:43:51 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Entertainment industry


A miss is as good as a mile.  This could describe Rudolf Bing and the Met or Joe Papp and Shakespeare in the Park in the 1960s.  It comes nowhere near describing what goes on at Disney or Time-Warner or Universal Studios or Netflix.


Chris Baer

Hagley Museum and Library


From: Program for Cooperative Cataloging [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Noble, Richard
Sent: Wednesday, June 22, 2016 2:50 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [PCCLIST] Entertainment industry


About as close as you can come would be Performing arts--Management. Given that "Show business" is a 450 for Performing arts, that pretty well covers it, even if not quite in modern idiom.


BROWN UNIVERSITY  ::  PROVIDENCE, R.I. 02912  ::  401-863-1187


On Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 2:14 PM, Ann Heinrichs <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

"Performing arts" seems to imply the more high-brow, classical arts, such as ballet, piano concerts, etc. Or even mime.

"Show business" feels like an antiquated/outdated term, calling to mind Irving Berlin and Ethel Merman (a la "There's no business like show business...").

"Entertainment industry" seems like today's term for show business. Perhaps you could use "Show business" for older material and "Entertainment industry" for more modern material.

My 2 cents, anyhow!


On Wed, Jun 22, 2016 at 12:24 PM, Michael Borries <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

This may not be quite the correct forum, and if it isn’t, my apologies.  I was looking for the heading “Entertainment industry” in LCSH.  There is no such heading, not even as a cross reference.  There is a heading “Performing arts,” with the cross reference “Show business.”  “Show business” is considered by Wikipedia as an alternate term for “Entertainment industry.”


So, my question is, for the purposes of the catalog, do we consider “Performing arts,” “Show business,” and “Entertainment industry” to be equivalent terms, and should “Entertainment industry” be a see reference on the record for “Performing arts”?


Michael S. Borries

Cataloger, City University of New York

151 East 25th Street, 5th Floor

New York, NY  10010

Phone: (646) 312-1687

Email: [log in to unmask]



Ann Heinrichs

Metadata/Cataloging Librarian

The Paul Bechtold Library

Catholic Theological Union

5401 S. Cornell Ave.

Chicago, IL 60615

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