The interaction of financial practices, critical judgement and professional ethics in London West End theatre management 1843-1899
This study describes in detail the context - physical, social and artistic - in which the London theatre managers concerned with the West End formed their ethical, critical and financial beliefs about the correct way to run a theatre, between 1843 and 1899. It analyses in detail the methods of creating and controlling income, of notions of expenditure and budgeting, and of the ways in which accounts were kept and in which they were used for information. Together with a description of these practices the thesis analyses the social aspirations of the influential managers, and argues that their desire to belong to an artistic elite at. times distorted their critical judgement, and certainly led them in some cases to establish techniques of theatre management which were not serving the art, nor were efficient in business terms, but which contributed to their aspirations to higher rank. The last section of the study describes and analyses the various arguments at the end of the century about state subvention, and state aid for the (London) theatre, for the insight this gives on the financial, ethical and critical beliefs prevailing in the West End theatre community. It comes to the conclusion that the narrowly middle class audience, the expensive production, and the genteel methods of managing this influential group of theatres existed not because of any economic or social necessity, but because the manaoers had collectively willed it to be so. Moreover this period of management has particular importance for us, because so many of its limited principles and methods have been accepted as normal theatre practice in our own century, and have continued to limit our theatre, artistically and socially, because of the limitations of nineteenth century arts administration.