Creativity and craft: the information‐seeking behavior of theatre artists

Ann Medaille (Mathewson‐IGT Knowledge Center, University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Publication date: 27 April 2010



The aim of this study is to explore the information needs and behaviors of practicing theatre artists. Psychological research into creativity provides a framework for understanding both theatre artists' information‐seeking behavior and the role of information seeking and gathering in the creative process.


The exploratory study presents findings from an online questionnaire of 73 practicing theatre artists and qualitative data gathered from eight interviews with theatre professionals.


The study reveals that theatre artists seek information for six primary purposes: understanding a work's historical, cultural, and critical background; finding sources of inspiration; learning about contemporary or historical theatre productions, artists, and events; learning technical or process information; finding performance materials; and furthering career goals. Theatre artists view the information search process as being essential to their creative activities, and their first‐hand accounts of their artistic experiences illuminate the critical role that information seeking and gathering play in the creative process.

Research limitations/implications

Some theatre professions, such as lighting or sound design, were represented in the questionnaire but were not represented in the interviews.

Practical implications

The study has practical implications for the delivery of library and internet theatre art collections and information services.


Few studies have examined the information‐seeking behavior of practicing theatre artists. The paper demonstrates that studies of artists can be used to understand the role of information seeking and gathering in the creative processes of people working in various subject domains.



Medaille, A. (2010), "Creativity and craft: the information‐seeking behavior of theatre artists", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 66 No. 3, pp. 327-347.

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