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The Management of Public Subsidies for Opera

Ranan, D. (2002). The Management of Public Subsidies for Opera. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigates the public funding of opera in Britain and Germany and the nature of failures of decision making in the allocation of funds by the public funding bodies. The hypothesis tested in this research is that the lack of clear objectives was the reason for die difficulties between funding bodies and opera companies and that clearer objectives would produce better decisions.

To investigate this hypothesis, the objectives set by the arts funding systems in Britain and in Germany in their funding of opera are examined. In addition to a description of the two funding systems, case studies in both countries are analysed. In Britain case studies examine the withdrawal of funding from Kent Opera, which brought about its demise; the Arts Council’s involvement in the establishment of Opera North and the relationship of the Arts Council with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. For Germany the case studies are of Frankfurt, Bavaria and Berlin. The failure of the Frankfurt administration in its attempts to deal with financial constraints and the resultant deterioration of the Frankfurt Opera are analysed. The opera funding difficulties in Berlin since the city’s reunification in 1990 and the Bavarian smooth running of its opera funding activities are examined . In short, this thesis explores what it is that the funding bodies are trying to achieve in their funding of opera and how they go about achieving it.

The case studies reveal that the funding bodies have never defined their aims well. However, on the basis of the case studies this thesis argues that neither the absence of performance indicators nor even the lack of clear objectives are the root of the problem of the funding bodies. The thesis further argues that power play of stakeholders and inadequate management of power politics are the source of the failures of public funding bodies to implement their policy vis-à-vis opera companies.

Various public-policy theories and decision-making models are reviewed and a decision-making model for funding bodies in Britain and Germany with regard to allocations to opera is developed. The proposed model covers the full range of decision-making situations confronting funding bodies. An important characteristic of the model is its realism and practicality.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences > Journalism
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Journalism
[thumbnail of Postma thesis 2002 PDF-A.pdf]
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