32500 - Cultural Economics

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Michele Trimarchi

  • Credits 6

  • SSD SECS-P/03

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language English

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

Student is expected to get a critical picture of mechanisms affecting the markets for the arts and culture. In particular, the student is expected to understand: - the economic features and the objective-functions of the various agents in the markets for the arts and culture - the importance and distribution of information - issues related to the market for contemporary art and to the economic value of creativity.

Course contents


Cultural economics: scope and evolution, connections with other disciplines, dilemmas among creative, technical, economic and financial profiles.

Cultural heritage, action and projects in the urban framework

The value of creativity: connections with the productive system and with social action. Cultural districts and time-lapse of creativity. A taxonomy of creative products and actions.



The economic definition of cultural products: semantic and technical profiles, interaction and reaction of recipients, transmission chain. Culture as a process.

The institutional framework as a network of exchanges: actors and actions, distribution of information among principals and agents. The role of nonprofit organisations.



The structure of cultural supply: creation, production, diffusion. Institutional and regulatory features of cultural enterprises. Human resources, range of skills, external interaction.

The structure of cultural demand: appraisal processes, occasional and habitual consumers, analysis of non-demanders. Willingness-to-pay and price management.



Public funding of culture: Baumol's Law and its critiques, technical features and political weakness of public subsidies, tools adopted to establish the kind and amount of subsidies, monitoring and sanction.

Taxation, regulation, and intellectual property rights



The range of funders, from individual consumers to corporate participation to the national community: analysis of the exchange channels. The impact of culture upon local and national economy.

Sustainability of cultural projects and institutions, from Brundtland's definition to an integrated view of material, financial and cognitive sustainability. Cultural compatibility: scope, limits and constraints.

Cultural markets in the emerging economic paradigm. Integration of analogic and digital channels and tools. Culture as a strategic driver for corporate, institutional and social growth


Some lectures will be carried out in cultural spaces, e.g. Teatro Comunale (Bologna opera house), Mercato Sonato (music and creative hub). Experts, scholars and professionals of the cultural system will be invited to offer students their experience.


The main text is David Throsby, Economics and Culture, London, 2012. It will provide students with the mainstream economic interpretation of the cultural system.

Further readings, listed below, will update methods and contents in the light of the emerging economy and of new social and cultural priorities.


Module 1

Arjo Klamer, “The value-based approach to cultural economics”, Journal of Cultural Economics, 2016, vol. 40, pp. 365-73

“From Ivory Towers to the Urban Texture: a Map of Future Culture”, forthcoming in Innovate Heritage

“The Economics and Policy of Creativity: The Italian Perspective”, Creative Industries Journal, 2009, vol. 2, n. 3, pp. 231-46


Module 2

“Nomina sunt consequentia rerum: an economic definition of culture”, unpublished manuscript

“Principal-Agent Analysis”, in A Handbook of Cultural Economics, Second Edition, edited by Ruth Towse, Cheltenham, Elgar, 2011, pp. 356-361


Module 3

“Regulation, Integration and Sustainability in the Cultural Sector”, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2004, vol. 10, n. 5, pp. 401-15

“Opera 2.0: Crowdsourcing the Stage” (with A. Carbone), in Cultural Commons. A New Perspective on the Production and Evolution of Cultures (edited by E. Bertacchini, G. Bravo, M. Marrelli and W. Santagata), Edward Elgar, 2012, pp. 228-40

“Market Options and Public Action for Opera”, in The Artful Economist. A New Look at Cultural Economics, Springer, 2016, pp. 171-84


Module 4

“Regulation, Integration and Sustainability in the Cultural Sector”, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2004, vol. 10, n. 5, pp. 401-15

“Taxes and the Arts: a Dilemma between Constraints and Incentives” (with S. Monti), in Rivista di Diritto Finanziario e Scienza delle Finanze, 2014, vol. 73, n. 4, pp. 533-48


Module 5

“Qualifying success: a framework for measuring sustainable financing mechanisms for cultural projects and sites” (with J.V. Schwartz), unpublished manuscript

“Staging the change”, Tafter Journal, 2014


Teaching methods

Lectures aim at focusing on the technical, critical, and strategic features of cultural economics as a discipline crafted on multidisciplinary approach and non-prejudicial methods. The presentation of each issue will be carried out along the sequence: a) theoretical framework; b) empirical evidence; c) strategic design; d) policy implications. Discussion is encouraged: the aim is to explore experiences also in the international perspective and with reference to specific cultural, social and institutional features.

Assessment methods

The final exam is based upon the presentation of a project on the part of each candidate. The project can be real or imagined. The focus of the exam is the ability of each candidate to technically and critically assess the economic features of the project, in the light of the knowledge and discussions developed during the course. The presentation will allow the candidate to combine the appraisal of Cultural Economics with own views, competences and experiences.

Teaching tools

Presentations, discussions, simulations through games and laboratories.

Office hours

See the website of Michele Trimarchi