“Theatrical Darwinism” and “Artworlds” – A Fresh Approach via Pierre Bourdieu – by Laura Cirigliano and Ronald Sharps

How do you think theater should evolve in order to make it more sustainable? 

What needs does theater fill in the U.K. and the U.S. and how can we cater to these needs so that this art form continues to thrive in an economic downturn?

By the time CRC visitors to a new blog by Montclair State University Masters Candidate in Arts Management Laura Cirigliano — Play by Play: Theatrical Darwinism — have finished working their way through an artful and beautifully- calibrated series of Web pages rich with reference resources and citations, they will be ready and willing to answer these questions.

More than two years ago, Ms. Cirigliano began an intensive course of study with her academic mentor, Dr. Ronald Sharps, Associate Dean of the MSU College of the Arts.   Dr. Sharps’ innovative syllabus in The Business of Art, in turn, had been honed through his dedicated immersion in the sociological/cosmopolitan philosophy and methodology of Pierre Bourdieu, (1930-2002) especially as manifested in Bourdieu‘s classic concept of “the field of cultural production.”

As readers will see vividly here, Dr. Sharps’ scholarship took on very dynamic visualization with his graphic Cultural Field Maps, now published for the first time by the CRC — with art direction by Brian Carter, Technology Coordinator for the MSU College of the Arts — and astute contextualization and commentary by Ms. Cirigliano.

In her newly-edited volume (with Sarah Kenderdine) Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage, Fiona Cameron, Senior Research Fellow in Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies at the Centre for Cultural Research at the University of Western Sydney, cautions against falling into “the illusion of the immaterial;” we would do well to heed her.  

As you delve deeply into the born-digital Play by Play: Theatrical Darwinism, notice how the blog inspires thoughts of “digital cultural objects,” their exponential multiplicity, and the commensurate responsibility of a site such as the Creative Research Center to act as a living archive. 

“I have always believed that it is the artist who creates a work, but a society that turns it into a work of art,” the late Johannes Cladders, Commissioner of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale from 1982-1984, told Hans Ulrich Obrist in an interview a decade ago.    

Similarly, Play by Play: Theatrical Darwinism explores the ways in which the art and business of theatre have been made ever-more complex by the pressurized and competitive US and UK institutional marketplaces within which today’s arts enterprises must be situated.

And so, we encourage all our faithful CRC devotees to follow the fascinating intellectual, theoretical — and applied — journey put forth by Laura Cirigliano and Ronald Sharps, and then to take the time to join the international conversation, and respond to the two research questions posed

We look forward to hearing from you.

— N.B.

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1 Comment »

  • It seems that, if I understand this correctly, the hypothesis is that the economic and societal constructs in which the arts exist, affect and will continue to affect the sustainability of art – any artform. And unlike other comestibles, art is not something that is universally considered to be a necessity, though artists and art lovers obviously could not sustain themselves without it.


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