There is significant financial pressure on the performing arts sector in South Africa.
Demand for the performing arts sector needs to grow if this is to change. This requires
inter-organisational collaboration. This study explores, through a grounded qualitative
approach, the barriers to inter-organisational collaboration amongst performing arts
organisations (PAOs) in South Africa, as seen through the experience of strategic
leaders in the sector. These included views from commercial producers, theatres,
festival and independent companies, and performing arts promoters. These organisations
were professionally run with paid staff. The findings are then compared with the
emerging literature in the field, conclusions drawn and recommendations made.
Barriers identified include personal pride, artistic ideology, the survivalist reality,
fragmented audiences and lack of support from government. The contextual complexity
of South African post-apartheid society also acts as a barrier to collaboration. Ideas
from the literature for overcoming these barriers are included. For practitioners, the
problem of inter-organisational collaboration in the performing arts was identified. It
appears as if inter-organisational collaboration (as a means of stimulating primary
demand) is constrained when the financial pressures on a sector are so great as to push
organisations into a corner. For academics, this study makes a contribution to the
literature that is part of a broader relational and ‘shared-power’ turn in leadership
studies, where collective action is increasingly required. The strong importance of
contextual barriers confirms the call for an increased ‘field-level’ analysis.