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Artists in an Iron Cage?

Artists’ Work in Performing Arts Institutions

This article discusses artists’ work in performing arts institutions in Norway. Many scholars describe Nordic performing arts institutions as slow-moving and heavy “art factories,” where artistic creativity is almost suffocated within bureaucratic “prisons.” The general problem that we raise in the article is whether this pessimistic picture of the relation between state control, market influence, and artistic work is relevant for studying the performing arts today. The study is primarily based upon twentyseven qualitative interviews with informants in an institutional theatre and a symphony orchestra.We
conclude that the actors in the Theatre are trapped—not so much within “a bureaucratic iron cage” —but rather within “an iron cage of charismatic leadership,” while the musicians in the Orchestra enjoy the relative freedom and democratic power of a rather soft bureaucratic organization.