A Vote at the Opera? The Political Economy of Public Theatres and Orchestras in the German States
51 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2013 Last revised: 27 Mar 2018
Date Written: June 23, 2014
Policymakers generally have powerful incentives to attract votes by strategically manipulating public policies, for instance by increasing public spending during election periods or by implementing ideologically valued policies for their electoral base. At first sight, public theaters and orchestras appear an unlikely domain for such tactics. Highbrow culture is elitist and provides few jobs to artists as voters (patronage). However, we argue that policymakers indirectly target a larger highbrow culture-consuming voting public, as this public is more likely to go voting, to actively engage in politics, and to influence other voters’ political behavior through political and sociological multiplier effects. We find evidence of such manipulation tactics in Germany, 1993-2010. Artist numbers increase during state-level, and even more during municipal-level, election years (electioneering). More tentatively, left-wing party power increases cultural subsidies and jobs in Eastern states.
Keywords: culture, arts, local politics, political cycles, microsocial mechanisms, social ties, manipulation strategies, political participation
JEL Classification: D72, Z18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation