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Title: Leadership, risk and innovation in contemporary subsidised British theatre : cases from large-scale participation initiatives
Author: Perry, Rachel
ISNI:       0000 0004 6347 8634
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2017
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This interdisciplinary study explores large-scale participation initiatives within British subsidised professional theatre organisations (SPTOs) from a management perspective. The academic literature on adult amateur and participatory theatre is sparse, despite the continually increasing public appetite for participation opportunities within the creative industries (Troilo, 2015; Brown et al, 2011). Added to this, the arts management literature does not cover the organisational challenges and opportunities of introducing ambitious new participatory work into subsidised theatres. This thesis synthesises literature from arts management studies, organisation studies, leisure studies, and theatre and performance studies to build a framework of leadership, risk and innovation. These central themes are identified as a way to navigate the topic of the organisational perspective on largescale participation in SPTOs, and as the principal areas where the study contributes to knowledge. Through privileged extended access to two of Britain's largest flagship theatres, the framework is applied to two large-scale 'Pro-Am' initiatives (Perry and Carnegie, 2013), in which professional and non-professional theatre-makers work together to create a theatrical event. Using a qualitative case study approach, this study explores management practice and creative practice, offering context-specific knowledge which is relevant to scholars of social sciences and the arts. Empirical data gathered through semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document analysis shows the life-cycle of the case study initiatives, from conception of the idea to reaction to and assessment of the finished production, and develops understanding of the concept of Pro-Am theatre. Large-scale Pro-Am initiatives can have profound effects on organisations, and the findings of the study are used to discuss the implicationsfor arts management theory, and practice and cultural policy relating to participation in subsidised theatres. The concept of 'keystone leadership' is proposed as an original contribution to the literature on arts leadership. It describes the attributes of leaders who introduce ambitious new initiatives into an organisation. The literature on managing risk in the theatre industry is extended by exploring how to identify and mitigate the risks of large-scale Pro-Am work. The study contributes to theory on innovation in the arts by looking at the two case study initiatives as a moment of rupture, with new models of theatre-making being developed. There is a growing conversation on arts participation in the UK's scholarly agenda. Studies such as the AHRC's "Cultural Value Project" and "Connected Communities" programme, and the findings of the seminal report "Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth" (Neelands et al, 2015), along with campaigns such as Arts Council England's "Creative People and Places", recognise and celebrate amateur creativity and the participatory arts. This timely study uses leadership, risk and innovation as a framework to think about participation from a management perspective. This study also considers whether large-scale Pro-Am theatre initiatives within SPTOs can be viewed as an investment in the future of arts participation in Britain and proposes the 'participation ecology' as a frame for academics, policy-makers, arts leaders, practitioners, funders and participantsto discuss the challenges and opportunities of different models of participation.
Supervisor: O'Reilly, Daragh ; Carnegie, Elizabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available