The Economic, Aesthetic, and Nonprofit Organization of the Performing Arts: Toward a Theory of the Performing Arts

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Professional vocal ensembles have few published resources to assist their managers in navigating the economic and societal currents of the performing arts. Yet, professional choral performance is growing across America. This study seeks to theorize and codify the practices of professional vocal ensembles as they balance musicianship with organizational efficacy and financial security. Theoretical concerns of today’s performing arts are addressed in the areas of economics, aesthetics, audience relationships and development, organizational structure, and strategic management. Discussions in these areas are necessarily interdisciplinary because so are the professional performing arts. Conclusions are drawn to suggest successful practices and philosophies professional ensembles can adopt to better their operations.

This study utilizes a combination of resource-based research and field observation with five anonymous ensembles, all of which are exemplars of professional vocal ensemble performance. After an introduction, chapter 2 deals with matters of professionalism in choral performance. Chapter 3 presents basic economic concerns and offers a new definition of economic output in the performing arts. Chapter 4 works within that definition by quantifying and qualifying aspects of the presentation of artworks and developing audience relationships. Chapter 5 suggests means of structuring professional ensembles through designing effective performance events. Finally, chapter 6 closes the study by applying theories discussed in chapters 3–5 to the practical and strategic management of professional vocal ensembles.