Culture in crisis: Deploying metaphor in defense of art

Terence E. McDonnell, Steven J. Tepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper examines the public discourse around cultural organizations under threat of closing. When discussing these crises, do people cling to old metaphors or find new ways to defend the arts? We compare the use of metaphor across the field of cultural organizations from high to popular culture and nonprofit to commercial. These questions are timely, with U.S. cultural policy under strain and rising rates of closure facing orchestras and theaters. Rather than forging a new path, we ultimately find that discourse around high culture nonprofits relies on old, elitist metaphors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-42
Number of pages23
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Arts organizations
  • Cultural policy
  • Cultural sociology
  • Distinction/democracy
  • Metaphors
  • Organizational failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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