Lampel, Shamsie, and Lant (2000) argue out that tensions between opposing imperatives are central to organizing practices in the cultural industries. Seen from this perspective the organizational templates that performing arts organizations adopt are often the product of antagonistic negotiations between actors that adhere to one, or another, of these opposing institutional logics. In particular, we often see a struggle between individuals that champion the institutional logic of art as the highest priority, and others who insist on the putting the institutional logic of the market first. Not-for-profit performing arts organizations often call on other institutions such as the state or private foundations that normally support and guide them to mediate the conflict between the logic of art and the logic of the market. These institutions act in their capacity as external stakeholders. In this paper, we explore a case where a family acts as an internal mediating institution between artistic and commercial institutional logics. Our research site is a Naples based performing arts organization, “Teatro Bellini”, that is controlled and operated by a second-generation family. The question that we wish to address in this paper how does the presence of the family as an institution reconciles the tensions between artistic and commercial logics? Our research is based on archival and interview data. We explore how the family team that controls the theatre makes artistic and business decisions, and how criteria that derive from artistic institutional logic interact with market or commercial logic within the family setting. Our main conclusion is that rather than balancing artistic and market logics, as predicted by Lampel et al. (2000), the team at Teatro Bellini actually blends the two. The blending, we suggest, may be partly due to the fact that performing organizations tend to focus on select audiences, and partly because in the Italian context state funding and market revenues combine to create a set of criteria that are not easily sorted into artistic vs. market logics.
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