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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Institutional Development of Municipal Theatres in Germany, 1815–1933
by Carnwath, John Douglas, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2013, 535; 3563698
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the development of Germany's municipal theatres from an institutional perspective, focusing on the ways in which formal and informal agreements such as laws, contracts, and social conventions formed the institutional framework that characterizes this type of theatre. Since local government support is a defining feature of municipal theatres, the question why German cities started subsidizing theatres in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries receives close attention throughout this study.

The introductory chapter reviews theoretical arguments for and against public arts subsidies and develops a rigorous typology of theatres in nineteenth and early-twentieth century Germany. Chapter 2 traces the development of the theatre industry in Germany between 1875 and 1929 based on the annual publications of the German Stage Workers' Union (Genossenschaft deutscher Bühnen-Angehöriger). Statistical analysis of the relationship between the emergence of publicly subsidized theatres and variables such as population size, employment, religion, and geographic location informs the selection of a diverse set of case studies.

The case studies are presented in paired comparisons in chapters 3, 4, and 5. Chapter 3 examines two major commercial centers, Hamburg and Frankfurt a.M.; chapter 4 focuses on two industrial cities, Krefeld and Chemnitz; and chapter 5 compares two smaller municipalities, Bautzen and Passau. Each chapter begins with an overview of the cities' respective theatre histories, which is followed by detailed analyses of the debates that took place at key turning points in the institutional development of the municipal theatres. To close, each chapter highlights factors that significantly shaped the developments in each case.

The final chapter concludes that subsidized municipal theatres were not introduced as part of a cohesive cultural policy; rather, municipal governments granted support for theatres in response to specific, local predicaments. Funding decisions were often reached as short-term solutions to immediate concerns, with little thought given to theoretical justifications or long-term consequences. Organizational deficiencies in joint-stock theatre companies, the growing influence of labor unions, heightened nationalism and the controlled economy during World War One, and the political rise of the working class all significantly contributed to the institutional development of municipal theatres.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Davis, Tracy C.
Commitee: Hayes, Peter, Mokyr, Joel, Thelen, Kathleen
School: Northwestern University
Department: Theatre and Drama
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: European history, Economic history, Theater History
Keywords: Economics, Germany, History, Institutions, Municipal theatre, Subsidies
Publication Number: 3563698
ISBN: 978-1-303-12187-6
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