Series 1 - episode 2 - Money.

Be helpful. Be compassionate. Increase courage.

On Monday evening last week I was listening to Front Row on Radio 4, which was focusing on Arts Council England (ACE)’s recent funding round for 2023-2026. Sir Nicholas Serota from (ACE) was flailing; Stuart Murphy, the CEO of the English National Opera, was incensed (paywall). A friend in the sector then told me that it was almost impossible to find out which organisations hadn’t been awarded ACE funding in this round, but had got some before. I got a bit cross about it, all of it - that the ENO were so blindsided by the funding decision, that hundreds or thousands of people working in the sector sat there looking at two spreadsheets side by side trying to figure out what’s going on, who’s keeping their jobs, where’s all the money going.

I am a visitor here, I am not permanent” is ringing round in my head (Hype Machine mid-2000s crew where you at?). Maybe it’s not my role to have opinions about a sector I don’t really work in. But let’s use a bit of annoyance and a bit of insider knowledge and a bit of momentum to do something productive.

Eliot and I were together (in person!) as I was texting my mate about her data comparison difficulties. Shall we just ask Jaye to do a thing?” Yeah, I’ll write a Google Doc.” Push each other over the ship-it cliff. Increase each other’s courage. Anyway, here’s the Arts Funding tool. Have a play and let us know what you think.

A creative collaboration in late 2022 is an exercise in increasing courage and increasing trust. Learning how to trust and care about other people. Moving beyond the transactional - do work, get paid - and into enthusiasm and compassion. We’re rebuilding those muscles after two years of being told to be self sufficient, look after your own, walk in the road when someone’s out for a run and coming towards you.

Next time contracts will be closed so less time for navel gazing”, Eliot said last week. Yeah right. Jumping off a cliff with someone else is a leap of trust and we each had the wobbles at least once. Your bank account has more money in it than mine, the cashflow spreadsheet says we’re good but will I still get paid?” Yeah of course, and these new contracts are in your name”. Whose thing is this? Is it yours or mine or both of ours?” Look, if you trust that person on that project, I don’t know them, but I trust them because you do.”

Retros help. And time together in person. And - no surprises - actually starting the work. Kim is working on St Giles. Do you know what a difference it makes to have someone with an actual delivery management background in the mix? We’re looked after and looking after each other. Finding the path between reckons and feelings and dark matter and getting it done. And making and shipping a thing, dammit, it always makes you feel better.


November 14, 2022