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New Play Map

What if the new works sector of the U.S. theater generated a map of itself, harnessed and shared its collective infrastructural knowledge, and then coalesced its diverse community to design powerful information tools that belonged to the commons?

The New Play Map is a pilot project of the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage on behalf of and in collaboration with the field that seeks to develop opportunities that Internet and communication tools have for enabling collaborative, culturally transformative, and globally scaled information resource and knowledge sharing – within and beyond the new works sector.

The principles and strategy grounding this initiative are influenced by the culture and ethos of open-source software development communities and by community-generated collaborative projects such as Wikipedia, Ushahidi and Open Architecture Network.

The first public version of the New Play Map was launched for the field’s co-creation and feedback on January 10, 2011. Version 2 will complete development in June 2011. Follow and contribute to Version 2’s open development process through the @NewPlayMap Twitter account, the New Play Blog, which documents the development, and the New Play Map’s feedback and idea system.

What were the functional goals of Version 1 of the New Play Map website?

1. Make an open platform for the field to create a map of itself to make visible – for the first time ever – all the organizations, activity, and generative artists that comprise our yet-unknown infrastructure for new work. The New Play Map aims to be a community-generated, real-time map of the national new works infrastructure. It is designed as an aggregator and platform for collaborative editing of content. All content will be provided or “patched in” by people to whom the information pertains or by anyone knowledgeable about a particular event, organization, or artist. The site is real-time, in that any feed from blogs, video and photo sites, and social networks are updated on the site automatically and instantaneously.

2. Facilitate discovery and learning about the new works infrastructure.

a. By using various category filtering and search features that aim to help the user sort, discover, and learn about our sector.

b. By using the New Play Journeys Mapping feature that visualizes how a project journeys through time, space, and relationships within the different support systems that comprise the national new works infrastructure.

3. Collectively capture and identify the New Works Sector’s most compelling ideas for shaping the future of this tool and resource. The field’s ideas will determine how to design and build Version 2 of the New Play Map. There was and continues to be feedback capturing and moderation system here that enables feedback and discussion from anyone. Final feedback and discussion on Version 1 of the website was collected during the American Voices New Play Institute-hosted national convening From Scarcity to Abundance: Capturing the Moment for the New Work Sector at the end of January 2011.

What did the New Play Sector collectively determine are the potential uses of the New Play Map?

Feedback gathered from the January 2011 convening and through the online feedback system was synthesized and articulated into four major toolset descriptions. Tools 1 and 2 will be addressed in Version 2’s development. The following statements are formulated like this:
“The New Play Map is _____.”

1. A Scouting/Discovery/Learning Tool (i.e., Follow specific projects/artists/organizations by e-mail alerts, RSS feeds; See an Event Calendar)

2. A Demonstrate Your Impact Tool (i.e., play, playwright, organization showing what she/he/it has done, Exporting and Sharing Journeys outside the website – online and printed)

3. An Artistic Development/Dramaturgy Tool (i.e., artistic process tracking on the Journey, production notebooks, patching in feeds, uploading dramaturgy)

4. A Matching Need to Opportunity/Resource Tool (i.e., resource filter, mapping resources, I have rehearsal space, residency opportunity and you need what I have; I want to champion this play and am seeking partners; Broadcast what the show looking for)

Development History and Timeline

Further documentation and information about the New Play Map’s development can be found on the
New Play Blog.

Since fall 2009, the Institute has been collaborating with the web development company Quilted, “a worker-owned, cooperatively managed company stitching together technology and social change.”

In spring 2010, several member organizations of the National New Play Network contributed to early prototypes of the New Play Map website and provided crucial feedback and ideas for the current version.

January 10, 2011: Version 1 is released for the field’s participation.

January 26-29, 2011: Final feedback is collected at the national convening From Scarcity to Abundance: Capturing the Moment for the New Work Sector.

June 2011: Version 2 completes development.

Open-sourcing the New Play Map Project to the World

The source code for the entire project will soon be open, free, and publicly available on GitHub, a social-coding repository. Take it, use it, adapt it, and build with us! We would like to encourage any organization or individual to adapt this project for their community in the U.S. or even beyond our borders. We could imagine a “New Play Map: World” if, for example, another nation’s arts service organization wanted to take the lead on creating a map for its particular constituency. Or, one could imagine mapping something entirely different based on some of the work that is already built here.

The New Play Map’s Website Development Team

Quilted: Michelle Moon Lee, Ben Mauer, Colin Sagan
Independent Developer: Chacha Sikes

Website Technical Specifications

The New Play Map website is built using Drupal, an open-source content management platform, OpenStreetMap, and is hosted by GAIA Host Collective, a worker-owned cooperative dedicated to environmental and social sustainability.

The New Play Map supports the following browsers:

Firefox 3.6+
Safari 4+
Chrome 7+
Due to the heavy use of JavaScript on the New Play Map, Internet Explorer is not recommended, because of its poor JavaScript performance.

New Play Map

Follow and contribute to Version 2's open development process through the @NewPlayMap, the New Play Blog, which documents the development, and through the New Play Map's feedback and idea system