Chapter 4

The Industry’s Development in America

In this chapter, we focus on how the performing arts industry developed in America, from the colonial period to the information age. While plays, symphonies, and operas have long lineages as works of art, the organizations that perform them are younger and specifically American. Why are some companies for-profit and others not-for-profit? Why are some permanent, and others come and go? How did some get to be hundred-million-dollar operations, while others operate on a shoestring? The industry’s current business models reflect adaptations to changes in economics, taste, and technology. They are not givens and need to be seen in their historical context.

Theater in America had a rocky start. In the ...

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