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Are accountants the 'scourge of creativity'?

Or has this particular luvvie got his cardigan in a twist?

The former director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre has come out swinging against the installation of too many accountants at the top of the arts profession (the Times (paywall) and the Telegraph).

This, according to Dominic Dromgoole, has created "a climate of fear and risk-aversion", with the demand for financial expertise on boards now “overgrown”. Dromgoole argues that governing bodies should pay more attention to artists willing to take risks.

So has he got a point? Or is this a case of much ado about nothing? 

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By Tornado
22nd Aug 2017 12:04

Risk is OK, as long as it is your own money you are risking!

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By mrme89
22nd Aug 2017 12:10

Many artsy types don't know much about finance, and in particular, where it comes from to fund their daft ideas.

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22nd Aug 2017 12:16

Central arts funding is shrinking to all bar a few major - mostly London based - institutions. In that climate, organisations cannot afford to take gambles that something that could leave them in a massive hole if it fails, then assume that the Arts Council will bale them out.

I'd rather have a diverse network of arts provision that considers itself slightly risk averse, than no arts provision whatsoever because it has gambled its future away throwing money at projects no-one will pay to see.

In the words of Falstaff in Henry IV Part 2, "I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse: borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable"

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to gilderda
30th Aug 2017 09:08

absolutely far far too London centric. there seems to a review of another Hamlet producution at a London theatre every other month in the broadsheets

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By DJKL
22nd Aug 2017 12:19

And in response I would say to Dominic,

"If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? "

Edit-That is censorship taken to a new degree, if A Web is censoring the Bard then maybe Dominic has a point.

To be clear the missing word is P**R**I**C**K

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to DJKL
22nd Aug 2017 12:29

DJKL wrote:

To be clear the missing word is P**R**I**C**K

Because you quoted Shakespeare, I read that as a partially obscured "Poor Yorick" at first glance.
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By DJKL
to stepurhan
22nd Aug 2017 12:39

I never spotted that, it is pretty close. You must do crosswords.

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to DJKL
22nd Aug 2017 12:57

DJKL wrote:

I never spotted that, it is pretty close. You must do crosswords.

I do, though more than a glance does show it couldn't be Poor Yorick after all.
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to DJKL
22nd Aug 2017 12:39

Apologies DJKL - the swear filter gets a little oversensitive at times. I've removed the offending word and hopefully your post will read a little more smoothly now. All's well that ends well.

Cheers,

Tom

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By DJKL
to TomHerbert
22nd Aug 2017 12:51

Certainly not set up for a gardening column,.

(over the years I have discovered that gardening always ends up with my teasing out parts of the garden from my hands with a needle)

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22nd Aug 2017 12:19

I think he has a partial point. It is possible to be too risk-averse, and interesting art can come out of oddball ideas.

But if "taking a risk" on an artist could cause a venue to close, then that is a risk too far. The grim reality is that places like this need money to run. If they can't afford to take the hit from a particular show not doing well with audiences, they can't do it. Would he prefer future artists have less venues available to show their work?

As an aside I'm a performance poet in my spare time, so accountants can be creative too.

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to stepurhan
30th Aug 2017 09:09

Really ! i must come and listen

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22nd Aug 2017 13:06

Well, I think he may have a valid point as there needs to be a happy medium as people will stop going if they are not allowed to be creative, which then means their takings will fall so it is a vicious circle.

In terms of art, my biggest beef is how the big comedians are ruining the Edinburgh festival, nothing against comedy but I don,t like how it is taking over the weird and wonderful plays and shows that used to be Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, each year I hope it was just a blip but it keeps happening. So it is not just accountants that can ruin things.

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By DJKL
to sarah douglas
22nd Aug 2017 13:19

Part of the Edinburgh problem is costs, even accommodation for cast/crew can cost a small fortune , let alone venue costs etc. Once my wife retires and no longer is stuck with taking school holidays we could disappear to Sweden for August and get about £2,000 a week for the flat, £8,000 for a month is not to be sneezed at.

I think a fair few smaller operators are simply being priced out of the ability to attend. Must say I am typical Edinburgher and very rarely go to see anything.

The influx of visitors this year has been massive (my M in L was complaining about all the buses being full and not stopping to take her into town) and I tend to avoid anywhere central during the Festival/Fringe to preserve my sanity.

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22nd Aug 2017 13:58

You have to find a way to let the creative and artistic decisions to be made based on creative and artistic reasoning and financial decisions made based on the finances. The separation isn't always clear enough though and the problems arise when the artistic decisions are made for financial reasons.

Once that happens the venture is artistically dead. It's easier said than done though when clearly one impacts the other so much, it's a balancing act not many will ever get right.

edit: I lost my point in there, it was that the fault isn't with accountants or the profession, it's with using accounting to justify artistic decisions which will work out badly both artistically and financially.

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22nd Aug 2017 15:45

Well, Mr Dromgoole has presented very little data or supporting analysis for his contention that too many accountants are at the top of the arts profession.

It is the prerequisite of any contention of there being too many or indeed too few of anything that there is a generally accepted concept of the right amount or number.

Clearly what Mr Dromgoole has is an unsubstantiated opinion of what too many is, and has probably failed to understand how this cohort of astute and professional people have allowed him the funding to pursue his artistic bent at the cost of the taxpayer by demonstrating value in his endeavours.

Not being able to translate the benefit or otherwise to society in exact financial terms of a work of art, be it a play, musical, exhibition or whatever shouldn't preclude some form of measurement to be in place. Difficulty in conversion of abstract ideas to money is in fact a well versed aspect of accountancy; take one man's or woman's idea for a new product or service and then get a business plan developed, who does that bit, why the humble and selfless accountant.

I would love to be able to spend someone else’s money without oversight or review but in reality i would fully expect that if I were to have the opportunity to be creative in such a venture that someone would at least have a view on the wisdom of my "creative desire" given competing demands for the money.

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23rd Aug 2017 21:06

A lot of businesses in the UK regard accountants as mere pen pushers, a necessary evil to keep the taxman at bay. They prefer their salesmen (who they regard as crucial to the survival of their business) to the "boring old accountants" .

There is a valid point that a lot of our kind are very sober, serious individuals who haven't smiled since birth and are the bearers of bad news and persistent negativity. Nerds who fail to impress at the company dinner even when totally drunk (they just sit at the table with their eyeballs rolling around the sockets until someone bundles them into a black cab back home). These are the kind of accountants who clients are not too keen on but are stuck with. Hey you hired them, now live with it.

Then there are the aggressive ones who imagine they are playing on a rugby field every day they come to work. Dominant, condescending and totally ruthless and rude when necessary. The clients are too scared to sack these ones for fear of being sued but hate them with a passion nevertheless.

Finally there are the nice friendly ones, who smile, make tea for everyone, have a friendly approachable nature, work hard and try to please everyone around them. They even put in lots of unpaid overtime during busy periods. Basically they are really easy to get along with and are an asset to any company that employs them. These are the accountants who sit at home unemployed and on dole, hated by their associations as they cannot pay the full subscriptions annually.

Nobody likes nice guys and dolls anymore. Accountancy by its very nature is not "creative" as it is a sombre profession that concentrates on figures and profits day and night. So it is no wonder that they are regarded as the "scourge" of creativity. Creativity usually results in losses anyway.

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By tom123
30th Aug 2017 09:50

I am reminded of Pru Leith's comment, to viewers of her new programme (Bake Off) on C4, that they could watch it on catch up and thus avoid the annoying adverts.

A bit of biting the hand that feeds there, and much spluttering from the backroom types.

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By DJKL
to tom123
30th Aug 2017 10:14

Or maybe it was a very planned story; a news story in the papers is publicity when launching a "new" show (Or a gutted out old one), we will just never know if it was mistake or deliberate.

These days I am far more sceptical re "mistakes" and chance events of this sort.

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