Beyond Size and Scale: Reflections on Small Performing Arts Organizations

  • Benny Lim The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Keywords: Performing arts management, small organizations, arts funding, COVID-19 pandemic


       In every city, there are bound to be performing arts organizations (PAOs) that are considered large/big. These organizations are more well-known and are likely to possess the resources to advertise their activities in public spaces, such as train stations and shopping malls. On the other hand, smaller PAOs are less visible to both locals and visitors. This paper adds to the lack of literature on the perceptions of small PAOs in East and Southeast Asia and specifically seeks to reflect and analyze on the determinants of ‘small’ PAOs in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan other than the usual consideration of size and scale. The research employed two qualitative methods. Desk research was carried out on reports and website materials produced by various stakeholders, and semi-structured interviews and dialogues were conducted with 25 performing arts practitioners. I deduced that ‘smallness’ of PAOs could also be perceived and determined by existing funding policies, as well as the practitioners’ attitudes and personal beliefs. Thereafter, I delve further into the discussions on alternative sources of income for small PAOs, the notions of social enterprises and collectives in the performing arts context, as well as the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on small PAOs.

 Keywords: Performing arts management, small organizations, arts funding, COVID-19 pandemic