Comparing organisers of classical music concerts in Vienna. An exploratory, qualitative analysis of social distinction, strategies, cultural policy, and dealing with changes in the audience
This study explores whether organisers of classical music concerts in Vienna have observed changes among their audience, what kind of changes they have noticed and how they deal with them. This explorative, qualitative analysis compares three Viennese institutions – Musikverein, Konzerthaus and Jeunesse – against each other and on a timeline from 2000 to 2016. Following Bourdieu’s studies of cultural distinction, we expected to find differences among the three institutions in how they perceive their audience and how they deal with changes, even though all three institutions primarily host high culture concerts. Initially, we analysed the institutions’ season programmes from the years 2000 and 2015 and complemented this approach with a content analysis of press reports published between 2000 and 2016 that concern the three institutions in question. Based on preliminary findings from this analysis, we conducted guided interviews with the three directors who manage these institutions both in artistic and economic matters, and assessed them through a content analysis. Our main findings show small, but clear, differences regarding their respective cultural policy focus, trends in programming, dealing with access barriers that keep specific population segments from going to classical concerts and the changes among the audience as perceived by each concert organiser.