nep-cul New Economics Papers
on Cultural Economics
Issue of 2007‒06‒11
five papers chosen by
Roberto Zanola
University of the Piemonte Orientale

  1. Understanding Production in the Performing Arts: A Production Function for German Public Theatres By Marta Zieba; Carol Newman
  2. Negotiating Memories of War: Arts in the Vietnamese American Communities By Yen Le Espiritu
  3. Inside and Outside the Box: The Politics of Arab American Identity and Artistic Representations By Amaney Jamal
  4. Visual Culture and Visual Piety in Little Haiti: The Sea, the Tree, and the Refugee By Terry Rey; Alex Stepick
  5. Circus attendance in Italy: the case of Acquatico Bellucci By Del Sarto, Alessio; Zanola, Roberto

  1. By: Marta Zieba (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin); Carol Newman (Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin)
    Abstract: The production structure for the performing arts is complicated by a number of factors making it difficult to estimate production technologies using a theoretical framework built for standard applications. However, understanding the nature of production and the way in which decisions are made by performing arts firms is particularly important given that many performing arts organisations are funded by government. Public funding of performing arts organisations is justified where socially desirable objectives are fulfilled. The public good component of output makes an important dimension of firms’ production decisions unobservable while the principal-agent problem reduces the incentive for firms to behave as cost minimisers. Both may result in an observed production structure which is uneconomic. In this paper we re-visit these issues using a new and extensive dataset for German public theatre. We aim to explore the extent to which the standard laws of production that apply in other sectors of the economy hold for performing arts institutions.
    Keywords: Production technology, Performing Arts, Nonprofit, Germany
    JEL: Z11 L32 L82 H44
    Date: 2007–06
  2. By: Yen Le Espiritu (University of California, San Diego)
    Abstract: In the United States, the writing on the Vietnam War involves the highly organized and strategic forgetting of the Vietnamese people. In a highly original work that investigates the production of American cultural memory, Marita Sturken shows that in the United States, the narrative of the Vietnam War foregrounds the painful experience of the Vietnam veterans in such a way that the Vietnamese people are forgotten: “They are conspicuously absent in their roles as collaborators, victims, enemies, or simply the people whose hand and over whom (supposedly) this war was fought” (Sturken 1997, 62). Likewise, US scholars have refused to treat Vietnamese refugees as genuine subjects, with their own history, culture, heritage, and political agendas.
    Date: 2006–06
  3. By: Amaney Jamal (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Arab American identity is strongly rooted in the political realities and social identity constructions of the homeland. For decades, homeland attachments have shaped Arab American identity; thus, it is not surprising that Arab American arts have traditionally relied on the cultural and folkloric elements of social ties and other relationships to the homeland. As with other ethnic groups, however, an additional dimension also shapes Arab—and Arab American—identity. The long history of political conflicts in the Arab world has played an equally significant role in structuring Arab American identity. The politically contentious realities of the Middle East from multiple US involvements in the region, the Arab-Israeli conflict, to the newly constructed War on Terror are all at the heart of Arab and Arab American identity.
    Date: 2006–06
  4. By: Terry Rey (Temple University); Alex Stepick (Florida International University)
    Abstract: Religious images, especially the Virgin Mary and Saint James the Greater, dominate the resplendent visual culture of Haiti and its diaspora.1 Whether in the mountains of Haiti or the streets of Miami’s Little Haiti, however, their meanings vary and are contested among Haitian believers. For Catholics, the Virgin Mary and Saint James the Greater are, respectively, Christ’s mother and one of his apostles. For practitioners of Vodou, they might represent instead Ezili and Ogun, spirits originally from the Africa of their enslaved ancestors. And for Protestants, , they might represent the idolatry causing Haiti’s many and grave social ills. For all religious Haitians these images are deeply invested with meaning, however divergent their interpretations may be.
    Date: 2006–06
  5. By: Del Sarto, Alessio; Zanola, Roberto
    Abstract: Although the cultural importance of circus, the economics of culture has neglected to address this topic. Two main reasons for this: first, cultural economics has (wrongly) considered circus as a minor performing arts; secondly, the difficulty to collect quantitative information on circus. This paper represents an attempt to fill this lack by analysing the characteristics of circus attendance. In particular, we submit 268 questionnaires to people attending Acquatico Bellucci. Descriptive statistics are discussed in the paper.
    Keywords: circus; attendance; performing arts; animals; circus techniques
    JEL: Z11 Z10
    Date: 2007–05

This nep-cul issue is ©2007 by Roberto Zanola. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.