Pushing for Sustainability: Arts Funding Applications as Symbolic Violence

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The presentation investigates how the language of arts funding applications tacitly imposes economic pressures onto art organizations in the name of sustainability. The paper analyzes ten years of granting documents from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and explores how the gradual inclusion of business language increases the demands on the manpower and resources of arts organizations with no significant increase in the amount of funding. Using Bourdieu’s concepts of symbolic violence and the State-as-meta-field, the subtle imposition of economic demands through funding applications is observed as a manipulation that allows governments to maintain the power of consecration granted by the accumulation of symbolic capital in society while simultaneously pushing the performing arts slowly into the market economy. Though the presentation addresses arts funding applications as sites of symbolic violence, it also considers how the very imposition of economic priorities onto non-profit arts organizations may, ironically, be the saving grace for such organizations in the face of global economic crisis. Forced to operate under the rigid fiscal demands of granting programs, arts organizations in Alberta are accustomed to efficient operation with limited resources. Therefore they are actually poised to weather the economic storm better than other arts organizations in Canada.


Keywords: Arts Funding Applications, Sustainability, Economic Pressure, Performing Arts Organizations, Bourdieu, Symbolic Violence, State as Meta-Field
Stream: Arts Policy, Management and Advocacy
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Brigit Knecht

Doctoral Candidate, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Brigit Knecht is a doctoral candidate at the University of Calgary in the interdisciplinary graduate program. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Calgary and a Master of Music degree from Yale University. A violinist by profession, her experiences working with arts organizations in Calgary, Alberta presented her with a desire for a greater understanding of the root causes for the on-again, off-again financial crises of arts organizations. Her doctoral dissertation, "Inside the Infernal Mechanism: The relationship between government and the arts", explores the evolution of economic priorities in organizational operations and considers how these priorities impact the artistic product of the performing arts organizations in Alberta.

Ref: A09P0514