The performing arts range from traditional vocal and instrumental music, folk dance and theatre to pantomime, songs and beyond, including rituals, festive events or oral traditions. The occasions on which music is performed are varied: festivities, marriages, and all kinds of entertainment as well as many other social functions.
In the performing arts this includes musical instruments, masks, costumes and other body decorations used in dance, and the scenery and props of theatre. Performing arts are often performed in specific places; when these spaces are closely linked to the performance, they are considered cultural spaces.
Many forms of performing arts are under threat today. As cultural practices become standardized, many traditional practices are abandoned. Music, dance and theatre are often key features of cultural promotion. While tourism can contribute to reviving traditional performing arts, it can also have a distorting effect, often, traditional art forms are turned into commodities in the name of entertainment, with the loss of important forms of community expression.
Many music traditions have been adapted to fit western forms of notation so they may be recorded, or for the purpose of education, but this process can be destructive. Safeguarding measures for traditional performing arts should focus mainly on transmission of knowledge and techniques, of playing and making instruments and strengthening the bond between master and apprentice. The subtleties of a song, the movements of a dance and theatrical interpretations should all be reinforced.
Performances may also be researched, recorded, documented, inventoried and archived. The process of digitisation allows documents to be properly identified and inventoried.
Cultural media and institutions can also play a crucial role in ensuring the viability of traditional forms of performing arts by developing audiences and raising awareness amongst the general public.
Safeguarding may also involve improvements in training and infrastructure to properly prepare staff and institutions for preserving the full range of performing arts.