Small Theatre-Big City. A City of Culture.

This month I found two articles that focus on how the arts make the places we live more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Small Theatres – Big Impacts

“All New York’s a Stage” is a useful resource around which discussions could be organized on how small theatres function in urban centers. Each of the eight sections of the report provides learning opportunities for students interested in gaining a better understanding of how theatres overcome the many obstacles they face (e.g., finding venues, high costs, raising funds, etc.). For example, the section on “Cultural impacts” focuses on artists and the development of neighborhood arts centers. The nature of the work environment these theatres create is also of interest (e.g., 9,000 non-salaried workers). These “incubator spaces” provide excellent proving grounds for aspiring theatre managers and future leaders to learn and gain experience.

A City of Culture

The article about the UK city of Hull and its yearlong massive programming effort (2800 events) could be a centerpiece for a discussion related to the topic of creative place-making. Arts programming can promote economic activity, but in this case, the City of Culture had goals to engage members of the community as volunteers and to improve health and wellbeing. The expected outcomes could be discussed from the point of view of what criteria are essential for assessing the success of such ambitious initiatives.

There are also several videos about the city of Hull festivities on YouTube, which provide examples of the scope of the programming. The Hull promotional bid video made in 2013 also might be worth viewing and discussing. There is also a short fact-sheet available that offers more details on the European Capitals of Culture. Lastly, it so happens there is a chapter in my new book that is about the city of Hull. I provided a link at the end of the excerpt below.

Thanks again for being a subscriber to the Management and the Arts blog. Have a great holiday and have a happy new year.

Bill Byrnes


NYC’s Small Theaters Have Limited Budgets but Great Cultural Influence

By Eileen Cunniffe, November 25, 2019, Nonprofit Quarterly

Results of a study released last week by the mayor’s office in New York City make a strong case for the impact of the city’s “small venue theaters”—some 748 Off- and Off-Off-Broadway companies, most of which are nonprofit organizations. As NPQ’s Rob Meiksins noted last year, New York’s nonprofit theater world has a proud history, stretching back over 100 years. Among the findings of the city’s report, All New York’s a Stage: NYC Small Theater Industry Cultural and Economic Impact Study, noted in the New York Times, are that these theaters “have an outsize cultural influence, often nurturing risky work, and reaching a wider audience with more affordable tickets.”

The study shows that New York’s non-Broadway theaters “are responsible for $584 million in direct annual economic output” and an estimated $1.3 billion in “direct, indirect, and induced benefits.” The Times article points out that some of Broadway’s most celebrated plays in recent years were first presented by small-venue theaters: Hadestown (New York Theater Workshop), The Band’s Visit (Atlantic Theater Company), Hamilton (Public Theater), and Fairview (Soho Rep).

The full article may be found at this link:

For a free copy of the sixty-page “All New York’s a Stage” please go to this link:


City of Culture ‘changed Hull’s image for the better’

An evaluation says the programme brought “profound but somewhat fragile” changes to Hull’s economy, community and cultural sector.

By Adele Redmond, ArtsProfessional, 11/28/2019

Hull’s 2017 City of Culture programme turbo-charged the local economy and “challenged the worst images of the city” – but was not enough to establish the area as a world-class visitor destination, an evaluation has found.

Just as many European Cities of Culture “took advantage of the limelight to redraw their symbolic geography and propose themselves as a point of connection between different worlds”, the University of Hull’s Culture, Place and Policy Institute found that Hull was able to redeem its reputation as a ‘crap town’ at the end of the M62.

Through “unprecedented levels of coverage for the city and its arts, culture and heritage offer” and the refurbishment of the city centre, Hull “questioned whether its poor reputation had ever been a fair judgement”.

The full article may be found at this link:

NOTE: For a more comprehensive view of the Hull 2017 City of Culture, please read Ch. 17 in The Routledge Companion to Arts Management. In Nigel Morpeth’s chapter entitled “The Role of Volunteers in Fostering Social Inclusion in a UK City of Culture,” he explores “whether volunteers created a sense of social inclusion by helping fellow residents to encounter new experiences in the visual arts and help foster the broad benefits of cultural participation as a force for social good in the city.” (p249)