Notes and Coins: The Financial Sustainability of Opera and Orchestral Music. / Feeny, Antony.

2018. 382 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis



  • Antony Feeny PhD Thesis 2018 - Notes and Coins: Financial sustainability of opera and orchestral music

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Throughout their histories, opera and large-scale orchestral music have rarely
been able to cover the costs of their performance without external support, and
yet they continue to flourish. This thesis examines this issue to confirm that
there has been a continual shortfall of sales revenues compared to costs,
assesses why this has been the case, looks at how such shortfalls have typically
been funded, and asks why these art forms have nevertheless survived for more
than four hundred years (the “sustainability dilemma”).

The thesis takes a multi-disciplinary approach covering several areas which
have not yet been systematically explored. After a review of the relevant
theoretical foundations for the study of the classical music industry and its
economics, it explores the meaning of sustainability and various forms of value
key to the survival of opera and orchestral music. This is followed by an
overview of the economic history of opera, and a selective examination of some
important aspects of its economics which are not typically highlighted.

The financial situation of the classical music industry in the post-War years is
evaluated in new ways by combining interviews with over 150 people active in
the contemporary classical music and related businesses with analysis of
financial data. These data are drawn from a variety of primary sources
including the recent financial accounts of a wide range of classical music
organisations in the UK, as well as selectively for other key musical countries
including Germany and the USA.

The current funding model of opera and orchestral music based on income from
commercial, governmental and philanthropic sources appears still to be robust,
if unorthodox in terms of today’s standard business models. The thesis
concludes by highlighting some of the options that may face opera and
orchestral music if the future were to bring a more financially challenging
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Award date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusUnpublished - 2018

ID: 30173210