9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS12 Arts Management: Sociological Inquiries

2009-09-05 09:00:00 2009-09-05 10:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 09:00 - 10:30 Governing the Arts Building AA, AA.340

On arts initiative and artistic policy: a history of institutionalisation, financing and artistic programming of the Belgian "factory of sounds" - the National Radio Institute and its orchestra - between 1929 and 1960

This paper aims to investigate the interaction between institutional, political and financial conditions and artistic policy of arts organisations. The question to what degree institutional factors are influencing or even shaping artistic policy is central to the "production of culture" paradigm. Whereas a lot of empirical work has been done from this perspective in most European countries, no similar research exists in Belgium.
Being part of a larger research on the history of private and public arts initiative in Belgium, this paper is devoted to the Belgian public broadcasting institute, the National Radio Institution (N.I.R./I.N.R.) and its orchestra, the Big Symphonic Orchestra between 1929 and 1960.

The N.I.R./I.N.R., founded in 1931, created its Big Symphonic Orchestra in 1935. This orchestra was recognized as one of the world leading orchestras between the two world wars until the 1960s. In this specific period it was innovative for its live performances and broadcasting of modernistic music of composers like Stravinsky, Bartok, Prokofiev, Milhaud, Hindemith and Berg. Departing from the political context outside the institute and its history of institutionalisation, financing and political control (impact of the broadcasting associations of the political parties), this study investigates the impact of these conditions on artistic policy. Vice versa, the impact of artistic choices on political support and policy measures regarding the broadcasting institute will be demonstrated. Aim is to illuminate specifically how and why the N.I.R./I.N.R. moved from a broadcasting organisation focussing on entertainment and light music - being a "factory of sounds" - to a high cultural institute that gave birth to this famous symphonic orchestra, the first fully subsidized symphonic orchestra of Belgium.

On the one hand this research will enlarge the historical and empirical knowledge of the Belgian/European public broadcasting organisations, on the other hand this research aims to contribute on a theoretical level to the questioning and refining of the ?production of culture?-paradigm. It is based on a quantitative analysis of historical data sources (from the archives of the N.I.R./I.N.R. and of the political parties), collected and centralised in a relational data bank, developed in a preliminary stage of this research project.