Chapter 23: Shared services and performing arts co-operatives
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Performing arts are built on collaboration. Many performing arts organisations are driven by the missions of producing art and building a better world through the self-fulfilment of the artists but also through the benefit of art for the wider community. So the co-operative ideal should sit well with performing arts organisations and yet there are very few registered co-operatives in performing arts in the UK, and only slightly more in France. Our research investigates this paradox. Culture and arts in general, requiring collective financing, tend to receive government subsidy to a greater or lesser extent. They are particularly at risk in the current economic crisis. Within the cultural sector, performing arts companies are particularly fragile (Urrutiaguer and Henry, 2011). The performing arts are essential to society, not only for the artistic value created, but also in economic terms (Nicolas, 2010). Many performing arts organisations are hybrids; they earn much of their income from trade but also receive government subsidy. In this the sector could be likened to agriculture or any other sector which enjoys government support. They are closely linked to regional economic development. They play an important role in a country's economic and social development. They are also business entities: they are employers, producers, consumers and partners in the marketing and promotion of their cities, regions and countries. Their sustainability is thus not just a sector specific question.

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