Before joining academia, Leticia Labaronne studied Performing Arts in the US, and then went on to work as a professional ballet dancer in Europe for over ten years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the UK and a Master of Science in Public and Nonprofit Management from Switzerland. Since 2009 she has been working with the Center of Arts Management at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Labaronne directs the executive Master in Arts Management at ZHAW and has served as a Deputy Head of the Center of Arts Management since 2015.
Her focus with respect to consulting and research is cultural policy, fundraising as well evaluation in the nonprofit and arts sector. Her current doctoral research relates to evaluation practices in the Performing Arts. The research focus of her PhD is motivated by her late artistic career. Labaronne is committed to applying her working knowledge of the field to explore new research paradigms that can better capture the complexity of artistic activities, and shed more light on the creative processes in the Performing Arts.
Measuring the immeasurable: A contextualized model for evaluating the performing arts
The evaluation of performance plays a prominent role in arts management research and practice. Not only public and private funding agencies are increasingly interested in measuring the results of the arts and cultural activities they support; there are also many internal motivations for an organization or a program to allocate resources to evaluation. In the past decades the literature in the nonprofit corner of the arts and cultural sector has proposed numerous approaches to define, measure, and assess the value of arts and cultural activities and its impact on society. Yet, research has been dominated by a strong positivist tradition and has remained prevalently normative and instrumental, rather than advancing the understanding of the specific artistic and broader contexts in which evaluation is practiced. The mainstream positivist approach assumes context-neutrality of scientific methods. This implies that similar methodologies can be applied to different contexts, thus neglecting the role of human agency in the art production and reception. Following the premise that artistic processes can only be captured within the contexts that give rise to them, the quest is for new paradigms with a stronger emphasis on the intrinsic aspects of the individual and collective experience (and hence ontologically better suited to capture the unarticulated assumptions and values of artistic processes).
Against this background, the aim of this publication-based doctoral thesis is structured along the following key objectives: (i) analyze the body of research in the performance measurement and evaluation literature across and against artistic disciplines, institutional settings as well as across countries/regions, (ii) investigate how evaluation is being practiced in performing arts organizations, and (iii) develop an empirically-based model for the evaluation of the performing arts that is derived from the field itself and thus is contextualized within its specific organizational and broader societal environments and test and critically appraise its internal and external validity. The research design takes an interdisciplinary approach that can be structured around the above mentioned key objectives. First, a meta-synthesis will be conducted. Second, following a multi-methodological approach to qualitative data collection and interpretation, in-depth fieldwork will be undertaken.
The development of the model attempts to advance the theoretical understanding of evaluation in the performing arts, as it provides a framework that captures its contextual complexity. Following the idea of “managing according to nonmanagerial ways of managing” (Zan, 2006), the proposed model contributes to the body of knowledge in arts management as it attempts to offer an alternative to management mainstream approaches. The originality of the methodological approach lies in using research traditions that emphasize the intrinsic aspects of the individual experience.
Conferences/ Academic Publications