Legitimate but popular? The field of classical music and its efforts to mobilize new audience

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The field of classical music is undergoing considerable transformations. While the music is omnipresent in contemporary film and games, many concert halls and orchestras struggle with declining, aging audience, subsidy cuts and a dull image. These developments indicate a changing status of the field, its accompanying practices and highbrow culture. Actors within the sector are applying a range of strategies reacting to the changing conditions under which they operate. The need to recruit and engage new, more diverse audiences manifests itself in new forms and locations of concerts, collaborations with other cultural genres and adjusted marketing. This paper takes a closer look at these strategies, new intended audience and the implications for status of the sector as a high art. How do stakeholders navigate the need to popularize while protecting their notion of artistic autonomy and quality? I draw on interviews with stakeholders within the Dutch classical music sector, participant observation and marketing material. Implicitly, these strategies often aim at recruiting younger consumers and people that are already engaged with other institutionalized cultural genres. While the stakeholders emphasize the need and desire for a more diverse audience many of the prominent practices appear consistent with changes in upper middle class culture. They can be read as manifestations of changes in the composition of legitimate culture and cultural capital. At the same time, they may leave a relatively homogenous cultural form intact.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018
EventDag van de Sociologie - Rotterdam
Duration: 14 Jun 2018 → …


ConferenceDag van de Sociologie
Period14/06/18 → …

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