The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing
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The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing

Daragh O'Reilly, Ruth Rentschler, Theresa Kirchner, Daragh O'Reilly, Ruth Rentschler, Theresa A. Kirchner

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eBook - ePub

The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing

Daragh O'Reilly, Ruth Rentschler, Theresa Kirchner, Daragh O'Reilly, Ruth Rentschler, Theresa A. Kirchner

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The relationship between the arts and marketing has been growing ever more complex, as the proliferation of new technologies and social media has opened up new forms of communication. This book covers the broad and involved relationship between the arts and marketing. It frames "arts marketing" in the context of wider, related issues, such as the creative and cultural industries, cultural policy and arts funding, developments in the different art forms and the impact of environmental forces on arts business models and markets.

The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing provides a comprehensive, up-to-date reference guide that incorporates current analyses of arts marketing topics by leaders of academic research in the field. As such, it will be a key resource for the next generation of arts marketing scholars and teachers and will constitute the single most authoritative guide on the subject internationally.

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Macro arts marketing issues


Laurie A. Meamber

Introduction and overview

(Art critic) … Because what you are witnessing today seems to me the situation of (the 1960s). Guy Debord talked about the society of the spectacle, and we are all on show every single day so also this notion of doing performance, doing shows, is really growing.
(Meamber 1997: 289)
In the current experience or image economy, the arts are essential. The aesthetic nature of life today is premised on our engagement with the arts, and with artistic material. Contemporary consumers are surrounded by artistic content when consuming the arts, such as performances, art festivals, fairs and auctions, films, and museums. Consumers are also embedded in design, aesthetics, and visual matter (embodied in brands, books, and webpages for example) in everyday consumption experiences. Consumers “perform” their lives by producing meaning via their consumption choices. With reference to the quote above, the idea that we live spectacle is fundamentally postmodern. Given that the arts and artistic substance are central in the present age, understanding multiple perspectives on arts marketing is more important than ever before.
The purpose of this chapter is to review scholarship pertaining to postmodernism and arts marketing. Andreas Huyssen (1990) describes postmodernism as viewpoint within a historical condition. Therefore, the chapter will focus on the marketing of the arts in the current era – that is, both on the relationship between postmodernism and the marketing of the arts (the viewpoint), and the marketing of the arts in postmodernity (the condition). The major topics that will be addressed in this chapter are: (1) postmodernism and postmodernity; (2) decentering and cultural production; (3) fragmentation and arts marketing; and (4) hyperreality and the arts. Rather than describing all aspects of postmodern philosophy as it applies to the present, this chapter will concentrate on interpreting postmodernism grounded within the arts themselves.

Background: postmodernism and postmodernity

Postmodernism, or more accurately, postmodernisms (plural) often referred to the collection of postmodernist thought, consists of the cultural, philosophical movements and critiques that were introduced in the second half of the twentieth century. These ideas have gained influence in marketing primarily in the period from the mid-to-late 1980s to today. Postmodernism questions “modernist” positions (grand ideas or metanarratives) on subjects such as the separation of production and consumption, the privileging of science and rationality over art and experience, and the character of reality. Since there are many ideas and thinkers associated with postmodernist thought, they will be organized in this chapter according to several key conditions that are critical to understanding arts marketing in the current period.
Postmodernity is a term that defines the present, an era that comes after modernity. Modernity generally refers to the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries corresponding to the Enlightenment period in Western culture, i.e., the age of the Renaissance. In this age, science and rationality assumed importance in transforming our perspectives on the world and our place in it. Other characterizations of this period include: postindustrial society (Bell 1973), the age of multinational capitalism and the rise of consumer society (Jameson 1983), and the society of the spectacle (Debord 1967/1983). Some scholars prefer to use the term “late modernity” rather than postmodernity to define this time in history, arguing that the features that define the current age also existed previously, although they were not as prominent or as recognized as they are now (Firat and Venkatesh 1995). Other writers see the contemporary period as the beginnings of a larger cultural shift (Bradshaw and Dholakia 2012; Firat and Dholakia 2006).These thinkers believe that in the present day there is potential for combining both modern and postmodern perspectives, allowing for a multiplicity of ideas, positions, and conditions.
Although there is debate on whether we are in the age of postmodernity or at the end of modernity, postmodern tendencies are unmistakable. Rather than occupying merely a transitory position in the context of modernism, writers such as Huyssen (1990) see a distinct shift in sensibility and practices from modernity to postmodernity. Postmodernity has given rise to postmodernist thought in which culture, language, narratives, symbolism, and the arts assume more importance in life (Brown 1995 , 1998). By implication, marketing assumes a prominent role in the process by which the arts are produced and consumed in this day and age. Turning to this cultural production process, the next section of the chapter will address the first of several key postmodern conditions or tendencies, the decentering (of the subject).

Postmodern condition 1: decentering and cultural production

Writers have long asserted the productive role of consumption in the lives of consumers. For example, Simmel (1900/1978 , 1903/1971) asserted that modern consumption allowed individuals to create meaning in their lives. The relationship between production and consumption is a key issue for postmodernists and can be described by a process termed “cultural production.” Cultural production involves generating and consuming cultural products. Developed in the realm of the arts, the traditional or more modernist (albeit cultural) view holds that producers of culture draw from the symbolic order (or pool of symbols specified by a culture) to create cultural products, such as an artwork, a dance, a piece of music or other artistic piece (McCracken 1986, 1988; Solomon 1988). The producers in a “creative subsystem” are the artists and creators, or more generally individuals who have been classified as arts entrepreneurs (Fillis 2000).
In the traditional cultural production model, the meaning of cultural products is transferred to consumers by cultural intermediaries or cultural gatekeepers, such as arts marketers in the “managerial subsystem” and “communication subsystem.” Consumers are placed at the end of the process, consuming the intended meaning of the cultural products, although there is a feedback loop by which these meanings are linked back to the cultural symbols which were available for use at the beginning of the process. The separation of distinct spheres in this process, production from consumption, is representative of the modernist order in which production produces value, and consumption takes value and “uses it up” (according to the etymology of the word itself).
A postmodern view of the cultural production process reconfigures relationships in the context of the arts, aesthetics, and culture industries more generally (Venkatesh and Meamber 2006). The model is dynamic, in that the cultural product (arts), and the other cultural participants – creators/artists/entrepreneurs, marketers, and consumers – are active agents which constitute art and its meaning. In this framework, the artworks and/or artistic experiences also are actors as they shape people’s perspectives on the world. Writers on the postmodern point out that objects (such as art works) operate on consumers because of their importance in consumers’ lives in the current age.
Producers help create art and arts experiences using signs and symbols from various origins – including but not limited to: artistic imagination, and cultural, historic, and religious references. Cultural intermediaries/gatekeepers attempt to inscribe the art objects and experiences with meanings when marketing them. Scholarship suggests that cultural products are imbued with particular meanings and associations formed and circulated by producers and marketers with conscious attempt to generate desire for them (Ewen 1988; Lash and Urry 1994). Consumers can accept these intended meanings and consume these suggested meanings. Consumers can also manipulate and/or reject marketer-created meanings, although marketers may attempt to regulate and control meaning reception by co-opting countercultural artistic expressions (Visconti et al. 2010) and consumer protests (Bradshaw and Holbrook 2008).
The rationale for this revised view of cultural production is linked to the postmodernist notion of the decentered subject (Derrida 1976). Among other ideas, the decentered subject refers to the idea that humans such as autonomous creators (artists) are not privileged above objects (what they create). In the modernist narrative, individuals are driven by the power of reason, but, in postmodernist thought, act as communicative agents. So, in postmodernist thought, there are a variety of contributors that play an active role in the creation of art, including its meaning. In postmodernist terms, the meaning of art is never fully present until negotiated by artists, cultural intermediaries (such as arts marketers), and consumers. Central to this idea is consumers using cultural products to further their identity goals and establish meaning in their everyday lives (Firat and Venkatesh 1995).
In postmodernity, identity is a project that is constantly assembled, reworked, produced, and re-produced via consumption (Shankar et al. 2009). Yet, in the construction of identity, consumers are not always free to ignore or subvert their individual histories, nor the cultural, social, economic realities impacting their choices, including the cultural history, referents, associations surrounding art. These actualities are reflected in some recent studies on the arts. For example, Hesmondhalgh (2008) finds in his empirical study of music and self-identity that consumer choice, while being self-representation (as articulated in the work of Larsen and Lawson 2010), is inexorably embedded within socio-cultural actualities, such as poverty, deprivation, lack of education or training, and the capitalist system in which cultural production takes place. Other marketing scholars likewise find that the interpretation of a work of art is constrained by consumers’ backgrounds, motivations, and interests, including the embodied and social nature of experiencing and interpreting art (Joy and Sherry 2003b; vom Lehn 2010).
Arts marketers and other cultural intermediaries are critical in directing or orienting the direction of the cultural production system today because they help to create the arts experience itself. For example, Joy and Sherry’s (2003a) work on the arts market illustrates how marketers index the changing value of art and promote a discourse or language of this value for consumers to adopt.
Therefore, in postmodern terms, arts marketing helps to shape consumers’ (and the wider culture’s) experience of art. Bradshaw et al. (2010) point out that much of the media and critics’ attention to Damien Hirst’s 2008 diamond encrusted skull piece For the Love of God focused on its economic value, rather than the experience of the work itself. Linking arts marketing to wider cultural policy, other researchers point out that because arts production and consumption are essentially shared communicative acts of cultural production, other actors in the process, including policy makers and other stakeholders, also play important roles in casting and directing the arts initiatives of publically funded arts organizations (Hayes and Roodhouse 2010; Kirchner et al. 2007). As contemporary artists rely more upon institutional funding, grants, funded shows, festivals, and museum purchases, these agents assume more prominence in the cultural production process. The boundaries between art and commerce, and art and government, and art and technology are not always distinct. In Europe and elsewhere, governments are using the arts to encourage economic growth and contribute to social causes such as community development and urban regeneration. Businesses sponsor arts events and galleries, and use the arts to foster brands. The Internet helps art consumers form social networks and fosters communication between artists and consumers directly (Kerrigan et al. 2009).
In summary, the cultural production process by which art is produced and consumed today is a dialectical, interactive process. Cultural production is predicated upon the postmodern condition of decentering, such that all of the cultural actors are recognized as being important in this communicative process of artistic creation and meaning generation. Some postmodern thinkers suggest that this means a reversal of production and consumption (Firat and Venkatesh 1995). More to the point, underlying the postmodern view on cultural production is the recognition that production and consumption are interrelated, and that meaning is being developed throughout the process, including in the act of consumption. In contemporary, postmodern consumer culture, individual identities are shaped by consumers’ engagement with cultural objects. Consumers interpret, rework, and transform art and artistic experience into meaning to further their identity goals as they construct and negotiate their place in the world. Another closely related postmodern tendency that impacts the creation of meaning in the arts is fragmentation, the subject of the next section of this chapter.

Postmodern condition 2: fragmentation and arts marketing

In the present age, consumers can seek multiple experiences and self-identities and can find pleasure in each consumption experience (Firat and Venkatesh 1995). Consumers can unabashedly and playfully choose multiple, contradictory consumption activities – for example, consuming a professional ballet performance one evening, and the next day attending a rap concert or visiting an art fair to enact different (or fragmented) self-identities. In postmodern thought, consumer loyalties are not fixed and do not need to connect to a unified sense of self. Fragmentation in the current period suggests that individuals do not have to commit to any one theme, meaning, or identity (Meamber 1995).
The same can be said of the artwork or experience resisting any one classification or received meaning. Instead, art objects and artistic experiences can be produced, interpreted, and (productively) consumed in a fragmentary fashion. Artists can produce many disparate, seemingly conflicting pieces of art and/or artistic experience without being labeled as schizophrenic. Fragmentation in the contemporary age has many implications for arts marketing. Art, itself, while always changing, has never been more fragmented in terms of its subject matter, form, and expression. In fact, fragmentation is the core of what arts scholars consider postmodern art.
The term “postmodernism” itself came into being in the 1950s in the field of American literary criticism to describe a reactionary position within modernist art (Jencks 1987; Venkatesh 1989). However, it was in the 1970s that the notion of postmodernism gained currency when describing a break with modernism within the arts (Van Raaij 1993a, 1993b). Modernism in visual art was thought to have been advanced by artists like Picasso and C憴anne who experimented with anti-representational forms, and yet, because modernity subsumes the period from the sixteenth century onwards, some writers position representational art as being modernist in its quest to present reality and the rational ...


Estilos de citas para The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing

APA 6 Citation

O’Reilly, D., Rentschler, R., & Kirchner, T. (2013). The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing (1st ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2013)

Chicago Citation

O’Reilly, Daragh, Ruth Rentschler, and Theresa Kirchner. (2013) 2013. The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis.

Harvard Citation

O’Reilly, D., Rentschler, R. and Kirchner, T. (2013) The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing. 1st edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

O’Reilly, Daragh, Ruth Rentschler, and Theresa Kirchner. The Routledge Companion to Arts Marketing. 1st ed. Taylor and Francis, 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.