CfP – Workshop on British commercial entertainment industries

New approaches to British commercial entertainment industries during the 20th century

Call for papers for this one-day workshop

Centre for Economic Institutions and Business History (CEIBH)

Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK

Submission date: 31 March 2023

This one-day workshop, scheduled for September 2023, will explore new approaches to the economic, business, and social history of the British commercial entertainment sectors over the 20th century, focusing on new approaches (especially regarding sources). Commercial entertainment was one of the most closely-monitored industries by government – especially from 1915-1960, owing to the importance of “entertainment duty,” a tax on admissions, which led HM Customs & Excise to compile extensive quantitative and qualitative data on the health of the main commercial entertainments (including spectator sports). This included commissioning the Government Social Survey to monitor both the frequency, cost, and age composition of customers for venue-based entertainments. Other under-used data include the Family Expenditure Survey (and its predecessors) and data compiled by commercial surveying companies.

We would welcome paper proposals on all mainstream commercial entertainments, including theatres, cinema, commercial sports, dancing, venue-based gambling (such as bingo), exhibitions and festivals. We would also welcome papers examining the impacts of new entertainments on incumbent commercial entertainment formats. Ideally, proposals should be “work-in progress” papers, rather than finished work, so that the workshop can contribute to improving the papers. There is no registration fee and we hope to be able to reimburse the admission costs for the presenters. For further information, please contact Peter Scott (IBS, Henley Business School at the University of Reading): For full consideration, papers should be submitted prior to 31st March 2023.