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Symphony orchestras in Scandinavia and Britain : a comparative study of funding, cultural models and chief executive self-perception of policy and organisation

Hannesson, H.F. (1998). Symphony orchestras in Scandinavia and Britain : a comparative study of funding, cultural models and chief executive self-perception of policy and organisation. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The subject of this study is arts policy in six different countries; Denmark,Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom and in particular how such policies affect both the operations and self-perceptions of professional symphony orchestras (and their chief executives) operating in the countries studied. Professional symphony orchestras in different countries have essentially very similar artistic approaches to their subject i.e. the performance of music, and are almost identically constructed with regards to number of players, which instruments are used as well as the role of artistic leadership (i.e. the conductor) in a performance situation. As such they represent a very uniform kind of arts organisation and art practice across the countries concerned, against which other, more variable factors such as legal structure and funding may be compared from country to country. One key objective of this research was to test the view that as the environment of the orchestras can differ, this could possibly affect the orchestras artistically and/or financially in significant ways. The management teams of the orchestras are faced with multiple tasks which can be affected by national or local government arts policy, organisational structure or levels of funding. The relationship between the management teams of professional symphony orchestras and arts policy makers at local and/or national government level is therefore a Complex one, despite the apparent homogeneity of the orchestral form, and often influenced by history and informal channels of influence as well as formal government arts policy. The study examines earlier research on the subject of orchestras within several disciplines. The cultural policies and orchestral development in the six countries are analysed as well as the results of a survey amongst Chief Executives of 83 symphony orchestras (32 in Scandinavia and 51 in the United Kingdom). The results of the survey indicate that there is little difference between the attitudes of Chief Executives in the six countries to a number of internal and external factors that influence their particular orchestra. The funding of a large number of the symphony orchestras of the sample is analysed, indicating that the major difference between the Scandinavian orchestras and the British ones is the level of government subsidy. Thedifference between the labour market between Britain and Scandinavia is examined, indicating that British orchestras have a much much flexible arrangement when it comes to hiring musicians, since there are three forms of employment, i.e. contract, freelance and self owning orchestras, in operation at the same time whereas in Scandinavia all the orchestras studied have contracted players only. The study discusses different models of cultural policy and government involvement (with a starting point in Harry Hiliman Chartrand's theories) and how this affects orchestras that operate under different models. The study concludes that the high level of government funding in Scandinavia is necessary to maintain the same level of symphony orchestra activity as the five countries have today. The reasons for this are historical as well as social and political factors in these countries. It is also a conclusion that different models of funding do not significantly influence the internal organisational structure of the orchestras studied and that a general model of good practice for running a symphony orchestra cannot be drawn up without taking into account socio-economic and historical factors in a particular country.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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