When Disney came to Broadway: Assessing the impact of corporatization in an art world


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

This article explores the commercial and creative impact of diversified corporations on artistic production. Drawing on original data from 70 seasons of Broadway musical theater, I examine the relationship between measures of corporate involvement in theater production and measures of content innovation and success. Contrary to my hypotheses, I find that musicals produced by diversified corporations are not systematically less innovative than musicals produced solely by non-corporate producers, as levels of innovation vary across measures. However, average levels of innovation on Broadway have declined over time due, in part, to the growing number of diversified-corporate musicals in the market. With respect to success, I observe two systematic trends. First, relative to non-corporate musicals, diversified-corporate musicals achieved equivalent to exceptional success as they were establishing themselves in Broadway’s theater market. Second, the relative success of diversified-corporate musicals declined as their prevalence in Broadway’s theater market grew. Together, these findings highlight the non-trivial ways in which an artistic market can change when corporate involvement in artistic production grows.

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