Before joining academia, Leticia Labaronne studied Performing Arts in the United States, 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 United Kingdom 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. Since 2019 she serves as a Head of the Center of Arts Management at the ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences.
Her focus with respect to consulting and research is cultural policy, fundraising as well as evaluation in the nonprofit and arts sector. Her current doctoral research relates to evaluation practices in the Performing Arts. The research focus of her doctorate was 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.
The thesis develops an approach for evaluating and managing performing arts organisations that is derived from the field and thus embedded in its specific artistic and institutional contexts. Underlying the research inquiry is the premise that, unlike (decontextualised) positivist methodologies, approaches that consider the internal logic of artistic processes are better suited to convey their uniqueness and complexity and thus to contribute to the strategic development of arts organisations. The thesis’s overarching aim is pursued by three objectives respectively addressed in three pieces of research that draw on multiple qualitative methods.
First, a meta-synthesis analyses the arts management literature on performance measurement and evaluation across and against artistic disciplines, institutional settings, and regions. The findings offer novel insights that should inform the design of future evaluations if these are to serve the real needs of arts organisations. Second, a multi-sited ethnographic study provides in-depth insights into the artistic and institutional contexts of the performing arts. By capturing intrinsic, intangible, and long-term aspects of artistic work, the study reveals the inward-looking and resource-oriented approach to the organisation of work in producing organisations. A resource perspective uncovers the recursive as well as resource-vulnerable and resource-interdependent nature of the creation process in the performing arts—both within single productions as well as across parallel productions. In this view, realising artistic achievement involves an interplay between short- and long-term resource considerations that intertwine artistic, evaluative, and managerial practices. The third study models a conceptual framework of the artistic dimension of organisational performance in the performing arts. The concept advances arts management scholarship by introducing a contextualised evaluation and management approach that operates within the inherent value assessment of the respective arts discipline and thus can contribute to addressing the challenges of day-to-day operations as well as the strategic development of performing arts organisations.
Overall, the theoretical, methodological, and practical contributions have implications for arts management as a research discipline.
The thesis (re-)presents the artistic dimension of organisational performance at the core of performing arts by (re-)focusing the analysis of the evaluation and management of arts organisations on artistic processes. In doing so, it constitutes a small step toward an arts management scholarship that centres artistic work at the core of the inquiry.