New approaches to understanding management and leadership in the performing arts
In recent years, debates about leadership and management in the UK arts and cultural sector have often focussed on a cultural crisis and by implication a crisis in leadership. Many of the performing arts companies described in this thesis produce world-class creative works, high-quality performances, and are well managed and led. Against this backdrop it was considered that a new approach to understanding management and leadership in the performing arts was required. Historically, management theorists have focussed upon organisational dynamics, organisational framework, management control and work processes with an emphasis on using quantitative analytical techniques. However, modem management theorists emphasise organisational. effectiveness with a focus on key strategic issues and leadership. Interviewing executive leaders on key strategic issues not organisational and process issues, by naturalistic inquiry, forms the basis of a methodology that can provide a new understanding of management and leadership issues. A multi-dimensional qualitative research methodology was developed that used thematic analysis, descriptive research and case study methods. A grounded theory approach also allowed syntheses to be made between key research issues and thematic elements as an aid to theory development. Research themes included leadership skills, artistic risk in a culturally diverse society, government funding of UK world-class companies, and a preferred executive leadership model emerged. New areas of research were identified that could extend the methodology into: middle-ranking arts companies, the museums and galleries sectors, other cultural sectors, and corporate governance issues. In conclusion, no evidence was found of a leadership crisis in the performing arts, though issues and concerns were raised about the role of the chairman of the board of trustees. In the long-term, however, there is the possibility that companies may face leadership succession problems, declining subsidy, and compliance pressures following new charities legislation. Researching key issues provides a basis for understandino the complexities of leadership in the perforining arts, funding, the wider socio-economic influences, and aid the development of training programmes that will provide future inspirational leaders with the necessary mix of skills and competencies.