Creative Economies

Focus: The Performing Arts Market

Summary of the data

The market for performing arts in Switzerland includes about 2’800 businesses with over 15’000 employees. With a 5% share of employees in the overall Swiss labour market it is categorized as a medium sized submarket. The share of businesses is slightly lower at 4%. This ratio points to the dominance of larger institutions in this field. Compared to the previous year of 2012 the performing arts sector achieved a +6% increase in businesses and a +1.4% increase in employees. The turnover also rose by 4.1%.

Table 1: Performing Arts Market 2013 in Switzerland (Creative Economy Report 2016: 34)

Voices from the performing arts market

“Within the Union of Swiss Theatres there are 29 member theatres with a total of roughly 2,700 full-time and 2,300 part-time employees. Of these, there are 17 and 12 operations in the German and French-speaking regions of Switzerland respectively. Over a period of, on average, nine months, 23 theatres prepare and put on a diverse range of their very own productions in music, dance and spoken theatre for the public. They can preside over permanent or – from time to time – newly assembled ensembles made up of professional artists, and also technical backstage staff and administration personnel. Usually these operations possess their own workshops – capable of building their own sets and stage design; and their own studios – where they can produce costumes and props etc. The other six theatres are theatre venues. They offer an attractive yearly program of features from theatre companies, travelling theatres and artists from Switzerland, but also from other European countries and indeed the world.”

Reference: Union of Swiss Theatres UST, “29 Theatres with some 5000 employees”, portraet/members/ (accessed 8.5.2016)

“The stage as a user interface: the stage of the future must be thought independently of architecture and institution.Theatre buildings, the castles of the bourgeoisie, will be displaced by decentralized sites in the network society. The theatre of the future creates new stages, conceived as frameworks for what-if constructions. It seeks out the potential of city and countryside, of backyards and the internet as its playing fields. The theatre of the future is less interested in showing and pretending than in connecting and experimenting. The stage of the future accepts the challenge of increasing simultaneity in the network society with thanks.”

Reference: Miko Hucko „5 Thesen zum Theater der Zukunft” in Der Bund – KulturStattBern (26.06.2015): 2015/06/26/5-thesen-zum-theater-der-zukunft/ (accessed 11.05.2016)

“Over 15 performances await Zurich’s theatre audience every evening. […] The audience numbers vary a lot: the Schauspielhaus for example is well occupied under the currently inspiring directorship, but like all the others it is still fighting to attract new audiences. Niche stages such as the Sogar Theater, which is embedded in a local neighbourhood, can sometimes hold up, while others struggle.

[…] ‘The tendency I see is towards oversupply’, says Daniel Imboden, theatre commissioner for the City of Zurich. This is a question of perspective, he emphasises. Although the market is huge and the supply diverse, small theatre producers sometimes still lament a lack of performance opportunities. In terms of public subsidies, it is notable that the Theater Bsael with its three branches and three stages is by far the largest recipient of subsidy. It receives 40 Million Swiss Francs a year, while the independent scene only gets 1.165 Million. Although according to the city of Basel’s commissioner for dance- and theatre promotion, Boris Brüderlin, there is no harm in that, since ‘innovative theatre is well supported here and finds its public’. As elsewhere, though, he describes segmentation of audiences as an observable trend […]

A growing market depends on mobilizing more audiences. Daniel Imboden on the other hand is critical of the ‘catchphrase’ of bringing in audiences: ‘Without adaptations by the producers, an activation of new audiences is only achievable with great difficulty and often remains superficial lip service.”

Reference: „Schweizer Theater: Kampf um Gelder und ums Publikum“ in Kulturtipp (07.01.2016),
 (accessed 15.01.2016)

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