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Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma: a study of problems common to theater, opera, music and dance – William J. Baumol and William G.Bowen (1968)


Author: William J. Baumol and William G.Bowen
Organisation/Affiliation/Publisher: MIT Press
Date: 1968

The objective of this study is to explain the financial problems of the performing groups and to explore the implications of these problems for the future of the arts in the USA. Alternatives facing the arts are recommended and the costs and burdens that society is expected to shoulder are outlined. The main focus of the study was the cost and revenue structure of the performing groups. Consequently, efforts were devoted to the accumulation of records of costs, ticket sales, revenues and contributions from other sources. Secondly, the information gathered in trying to determine who constitutes the audience, in terms of education, economic characteristics, geographic distribution, ticket purchasing habits, etc. is given. From these, a series of sub-studies could be produced. Among them, studies of performer incomes, the history and anatomy of cultural centres, grants and contributions, and the state of the arts in the UK. The subject matter included only live professional performance. There are three parts to this book. The first details the current economic state of the performing arts in the USA. The ‘cultural boom’ is re-examined. The characteristics of audiences and the financial circumstances of performers are discussed, culminating in an examination of the economic state of the performing organizations. The second part discusses the technology of the performing arts and its implications for their financial future. The final part examines the sources of funds used to cover the deficits. The implications of the findings for the future of the arts and for public policy are outlined.

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