Building sustainability in the performing arts

The inside of a theatre

Helping the Australian performing arts industry communicate its value to improve sustainability across the sector is the top priority for a UQ Business School researcher.

Applied linguist Dr Kate Power is investigating what sustainability means to the performing arts sector, and how it can best articulate its value, priorities and needs to funding bodies and the public.

“About five years ago, the Australia Council for the Arts experienced significant Australian Government funding cuts,” Dr Power said.

“The performing arts ecosystem hasn’t fully recovered. So if you understand sustainability in terms of the industry’s capacity to endure and thrive financially, that’s not happening.”

But Dr Power said financial sustainability wasn’t the only consideration.

“Sustainability in the performing arts is conceptualised differently than it is in other industries,” Dr Power said.

“My industry partners hope this research will help key stakeholders commit to sustaining the performing arts’ cultural and artistic dimensions, as well as the work of Australian artists," she said.

“Ultimately, I want to help companies and artists better communicate the value of what they do beyond money and numbers.”

To achieve this goal, Dr Power is interviewing and analysing written data from representatives of major, small-to- medium and independent performing arts companies.

She plans to develop case studies for business and performing arts students, focusing on best practice organisational communication around sustainability.

Dr Power said she had consulted with performing arts representatives on the research design, taking into consideration their biggest issues and concerns.

Her research is part of UQ Business School’s Business Sustainability
. Final research findings will be presented to industry in collaboration with UQ’s Australian Institute for Business and Economics.

Ballerinas on stage
Man playing the violin in an orchestra
Dancers on stage

Read more inspiring research partnership stories from the 2019 BEL Research Profile.