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Taking care and playing it safe: Tensions in the management of funding relationships

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Applied Theatre Consultants Ltd is a theatre company based in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Since 2003 they have received funding from a government department for ‘Everyday Theatre’, a programme about family violence and child abuse. Drawing on an ethnographic study undertaken with the company, this article presents an analysis of the ways in which they have experienced and managed changes to this funding relationship. It will address concerns raised in the academic discourse of applied theatre about the ways in which funding can determine, constrain and compromise practice. Over nine years, tensions have emerged between the arts and social justice values that informed the creation of Everyday Theatre and the rational management systems that have since been implemented by the funder to manage the contractual relationship. Rather than just focusing on the negative effects of these changes, I will draw on theories of arts management as an ‘arts-led’and care-based activity to highlight the particular affordances and strategies used by the company to negotiate between the requirements of their funder and their core artistic and organizational values. I will argue that to understand better the implications of funding relationships for the practice of applied theatre companies, attention needs to be paid to the changing dynamics of such relationships and to the particular ways in which management is constituted within such organizations.
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Keywords: applied theatre; arts management; ethnography; funding; management; rational management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Auckland

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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  • The Journal of Arts and Communities seeks to provide a critical examination of the practices known as community or participatory arts, encompassing a field of work defined for this purpose as incorporating active creative ollaboration between artists and people in a range of communities.The journal will take a cross-artform and interdisciplinary approach,including work happening in performance, visual arts and media,writing, multimedia and collaboration involving digital technology and associated forms. In part this will create an archive that will document work which can otherwise be ephemeral
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