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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Arts Marketing: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 1.
This issue presents five very interesting papers that explore a number of important issues, from deconstructing the validation process for contemporary art, to the act of listening to live jazz. An important thread runs through all of these papers: each provides us with some understanding of the value of art for various market participants and demonstrates how broad, complex and nuanced the value of the arts is.
Many regions around the globe are currently facing challenging economic, political, and social macro conditions. While such eras are characterised by struggle, change, and hardship for many, they are very often also moments in which tough questions are raised about the value of different activities we engage in as producers, as consumers, and as a citizens. The value of the arts has been a question of social, economic, political, and philosophical importance for millennia (e.g. Bowman, 1988). But as new art forms emerge, social and technological conditions transform artistic and marketing possibilities, and cultures converge and diverge; there is a continued need to understand the evolving value of arts. Many are responding to this need, ranging from academics, arts marketing practitioners, and policy makers. In the UK, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) recently launched their Cultural Value Project “in order to shape a more persuasive and innovative approach to the value to individuals and society generated by the arts and culture” (AHRC, 2013, p. 2). What is important to note is that this call emerges from the recognition that current understandings of the impact and value of the arts are partial and too narrow in their instrumental focus on predefined economic and social benefits to really be convincing and/or helpful to any involved in the arts and cultural sector. Although unrelated to the AHRC's project, the papers in this issue of Arts Marketing: An International Journal do contribute to this wider project of gaining a better understanding of the value of art.
The first paper by Rodner and Thomas examines the validation process for contemporary art, identifying key components of the process, which they refer to as the art machine. Through an analysis of the extant literature, the paper explores the roles played by art professionals and institutions and how these often overlap. The authors demonstrate, through their critical appraisal of the literature, how success is optimised when all of the key components of the art machine are working in unison towards the aspirational goal of optimal symbolic and financial value for the contemporary art market. The art machine is an excellent vehicle for artists and arts professionals to understand the intricate working of the various actors involved in the contemporary art market and the processes that need to take place to achieve success and thus create value for their art. The art machine is versatile and could quite easily be adapted to other art forms, such as music and theatre, for example.
In contradistinction, Kottasz and Bennett's piece is empirical in nature and examines visual artists’ level of commitment to their primary distributors, who play an important part of the value creation process. In total, 220 British artists were surveyed for this paper to ascertain information on their relationships with key external intermediaries. Structural equation modelling is used to predict commitment levels. Interestingly, a major conclusion of the paper is the need for artists to develop a strong personal brand when dealing with distributors, which in turn leads to stronger relationships and, ultimately, increased influence and control over the intermediary. To some, the latter point may be seen as juxtaposition and, once again, raises the old age debate of art vs commerce (see Holbrook, 2005; Bradshaw et al., 2006).
Pitts and Burland's paper explores the idea of listening to jazz and poses the question as to whether this is an individual or social act. Through qualitative methods, the paper explores listeners’ relationship to the music in two different settings: a relatively large festival and a small intimate venue. The rich qualitative data allows for a fascinating narrative that highlights some very interesting findings, of which there are many, but one that really resonates is the importance of the musicians’ interaction with the audience. Such interactions are crucial to develop the listener's knowledge of the music, but also the excitement and “sound of surprise” that a jazz performance provides. The paper demonstrates that listening to jazz has a strong social element, whereby like-minded individuals can come together and converse about the music and enjoy the immediacy and authenticity of the performance in an appropriate environment. There are clear lessons from this paper for promoters of jazz, in that there is a need to ensure that audiences have a pleasurable experience, which goes beyond the music. The environment in which the listening takes place needs to be conducive, so that it allows listeners to feel comfortable, interact with each other and the musicians on stage. Pitts and Burland conclude that listening to jazz is indeed both an individual and social act.
Continuing with a musical theme, Oakes, Patterson and Oakes examine the use of pre-recorded music in department stores. Their paper uses introspection as a vehicle for gathering auto-ethnographic data to allow respondents to reflect on their consumption experience and address the central research aim of the paper – to examine the effects of music upon emotional, cognitive, and behavioural responses. Three themes are identified in the paper as a basis for an interesting discussion: sensory congruity; music and autobiographical congruity and incongruous absence of music. Key findings include the need for background music to be congruous to other servicescape elements, i.e. the physical environment and products on offer. Music with a positive autobiographical resonance can evoke pleasurable nostalgic memories, which in turn can increase the length of stay in store. Interestingly, the absence of music is also discussed in this paper and it is suggested that this can have a negative impact on store evaluation and result in minimal time spent in the store/department. The paper adds a new dimension to an already well-established literature base that the authors note is worthy of further academic enquiry.
Walmsley's paper seeks to understand the rich and complex nature of the value audiences gain from attending theatre, by seeking out a new discourse which articulates this value in a more holistic way. A reflexive review argues that existing literature might be guilty of reducing the impact of the arts on audiences by creating two false dichotomies – distinguishing value from benefits, and dividing impact into intrinsic and instrumental. Following ethnographic principles and employing a range of data collection methods from interviews to participant observation, Walmsley provides a rich account of the immediate and cumulative impact of theatre as expressed in the authentic language of the audience. Many of the types of impact identified in the existing literature were apparent, but what is most interesting is that this research highlighted new perceptions of value, particularly the affiliated impact of seeing famous actors, the role of anticipation and reflection, and the addictive nature of the theatre experience. The words of the participant theatre goers evoke messy, complex, interwoven, and powerful experiences which would not otherwise be fully appreciated.
All of the papers demonstrate the importance of arts marketing as an academic discipline and are representative of a bourgeoning field of research. In today's society, with a plethora of austerity measures being put in place in many sectors – including the arts, there is a need for artists and the arts infrastructure to understand their relationship with one another, the markets in which they serve and the ways in which these come together to create value for all those involved. Academic research into arts marketing is crucial to generate thought leadership to enhance our understanding of what can only be described as a complex arts marketing landscape.
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) (2013), “Cultural value project: open funding call”, available at: www.ahrc.ac.uk/Funding-Opportunities/Documents/Funding%20Call%20(final)%20-%20IB%20comments.pdf
Bowman, W.D. (1988), Philosophical Perspectives on Music, Oxford University Press, Oxford
Bradshaw, A., McDonagh, P. and Marshall, D. (2006), “Response to art versus commerce as a macromarketing theme”, Journal of Macromarketing, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 81-83
Holbrook, M.B. (2005), “Arts versus commerce as a macromarketing theme in three films from the young-man-with-a-horn genre”, Journal of Macromarketing, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 22-31