Nonprofit Organizations and the Intersectoral Division of
Labor in the Arts
Working Paper #30, Fall 2003
This paper takes stock of what we know about the role of
nonprofit enterprise in the production and distribution of the
arts (broadly defined), primarily in the United States.
After briefly discussing measurement, I present data on the extent
of nonprofit activity in a range of cultural subfields. I
then review theoretical explanations of the prevalence of
nonprofits in cultural industries and discuss some puzzles that
existing theories do not adequately solve. After reviewing
research and theory about behavioral differences between nonprofit
and for-profit arts firms, I explore how the art-and-culture
sector is evolving in the face of demographic change, the
weakening of the cultural hierarchy, and the emergence of new
production and distribution technologies. I conclude with a
This paper will appear in the forthcoming The Nonprofit
Sector: A Research Handbook, 2nd edition, edited by
Walter W. Powell and Richard Steinberg, New Haven, Connecticut:
Yale University Press.
text version in PDF format.