I noted that perhaps we need more arts organisations to learn the ‘art of dying’. Or at the very least we need to challenge more directly the mindset common across the sector that it is a wrong, and indeed a cultural crime, to let an arts organisation die.
Firstly, the sector has been painfully slow in adapting to changed realities, operationally and culturally, a truth rarely acknowledged. Indeed, a sector that prides itself on modernity and relevance is dependent on institutions and organisations designed for the past and not the future. Interviewees talked of a default ‘no change’ mindset in the arts, with imperatives for artistic innovation having proved weak drivers of organisational renewal. The interviewees also sense that the arts have remained rather a closed world, rarely looking outside their sector to the commercial world or elsewhere for inspiration and new practices.
At the level of generality, interviewees depicted many large arts organisations as too complacent, poorly networked, and lacking creativity and entrepreneurial flair. Many small organisations are hand to mouth, too fragile, and too personality dependent to embed and propagate sustained innovation and success, and there not enough linkages and collaboration between the commanding heights and the fragile periphery.