Unmanageable opera? : the artistic-economic dichotomy and its manifestations in the organisational structures of five opera organisations
The starting point for this research project is the high incidence in recent years of problems in the management of opera houses in Europe, especially those of an economic and managerial nature. This thesis concentrates on analysing these issues and suggests that there are inherent tensions in running an opera organisation which cause these difficulties. A key concept in the analyses presented in this thesis is the artistic-economic dichotomy, which describes the dual aim of arts organisations: artistic aims and economic-organisational aims. In creating an analytical framework for this concept, theories by Jurgen Habermas, Jean L. Cohen and Andrew Arato, and Henrik Kaare Nielsen are applied. The theoretical concepts employed include civil society, state and market as defined by Habermas and quality as contextual entity as defined by Nielsen. With the help of these concepts an analytical model is created for analysing the framework in which opera organisations operate. In the course of the thesis five case-study organisations are analysed with the analytical apparatus created. The organisations analysed are: Deutsche Opera Berlin, English National Opera, Finnish National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Opêra national de Paris. The information presented about the case-study organisations includes a brief organisational history, income and expenditure information, personnel structure and organisational structure. Additionally, programming, pricing and audience information is presented with basic details of the opera houses in which the organisations operate. The key finding of the research process is that a dual organisational structure often exists in opera organisations: the official organisational structure and an unofficial artistic structure. This dual structure, it is argued in this thesis, is the reason for difficulties in managing an opera organisation. Based on this finding, a model describing the artistic-economic framework in which opera organisations need to operate is created at the end of the thesis. This model — incorporating the different value assumptions and quality contexts existing in the framework of opera organisations — is the main result of the research process. It can be applied in the analysis of opera organisations and can, it is argued, assist in academic as well as practical discussion about how opera houses could be better managed in the future.