Research Center for Arts & Culture
The Actors Fund

Performing Arts Legacy Project

An online platform to document and represent the careers of older performing arts professionals

How To: Mapping the Legacy


MAPPING THE LEGACY is our term for creating a framework to document your career. 

You, the performer, will want to articulate the moments, experiences, stories, events, productions, performances, you wish to memorialize, document, save and pass on. Asking yourself, “ What do I want to save/to tell/to pass on?” and then “What have I got? What do I need to find?” will help you begin. See our Guide to Getting Organized to get your materials in order.

Some people have “given everything away.” Still, they retain their stories, can research the context of the period around things in those stories, and can link to audio, video, library collections to flesh out their stories. Do you primarily work in one (theatre) or across several (theatre, music, and/or dance)?

How do you want to organize your professional work?

  • By decade?
  • By date(s) of performance, event, etc.?
  • By theme?
  • By artistic field – musicals, drama, theatre, film, dance, etc.?
  • By periods in theatrical history?
  • By geography (regional, local, national, international)?

What memorabilia do you have (or what can you access)?

  • Audio
  • Biographical information
  • Contracts
  • Correspondence
  • Educational materials
  • Film
  • Financial records
  • Notes for roles
  • Photographs
  • Playbills/programs
  • Posters
  • Press materials
  • Reviews
  • Scrapbooks
  • Scripts
  • Video
  • Other

Create key words so that work can be accessed according to these. Examples: drama of protest, poetic interpretation, protest art, etc.

Identify topics in addition to performance you want to include, such as:

  • Important teachers, mentors, companies
  • Performing techniques
  • Career entry options
  • Particular challenges and opportunities: Examples: Creative block, physical modifications
  • Marketplace Judgments: grants, awards, fellowships, financial assistance, representation by managers, agents, publicist
  • Tips to include or watch for in contracts
  • Working in the profit vs the nonprofit sector, institutions.
  • What about interviews – radio, television, live?

The GRID is the main hub for documenting. Instructions for using it appear below. Other tabs like Oral Histories and Curated Life Reviews provide additional places to add content. In addition, content may be uploaded as blogs, journal entries, links, additional notes, reflections/significant moments, multimedia galleries, and more. Your feedback is welcome, so please use the help section to share your questions and input.

Creating Your Grid

Each “entry” in the grid is an event or project such as a production, job, or experience. Once you have set up your own Performing Arts Legacy website (details here), you can navigate to a page called Add an Entry ([my-site-name]/legacy-add) or go to the Mapping the Legacy page — where the grid is displayed — and click the small “add an entry” link at the bottom right corner.

If you prefer to get organized using a spreadsheet instead, you can click here to make your own copy of our Mapping the Legacy template, a Google Sheet with multiple pages, each of which uses an alternate organizing scheme to help you document career milestones. Using the spreadsheet may be an easier way for some to get organized prior to, or even in lieu of, creating their own website and publishing a Legacy grid using the entry system.

You can edit or delete existing entries using the links on the grid page.

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