The Evil Imp

Eating All The Pies

Some of you may well have noticed, and most you will not care one bit, that Arts Council England (ACE) has a new boss in the shape of Alan Davey their new Chief Executive.

When there’s a change of leadership the hope is that things are going to be better than they were before. Considering the chaos ACE caused with their recent funding review it’s hard to imagine things getting any worse.

So what are we to expect from Mr Davey? Well it turns out that he quite likes the arts which is a good sign if you’re going to be running the organisation that provides them with the majority of their funding. He likes his art old, very old as it happens, but dead artists have made some good work so let’s not despair just yet.

According to his interview in the “always friendly unless you’re BAE” Guardian newspaper he’s a big music fan, Justin Rutledge (that’s a real person) in his favourite singer. Before becoming a paper shuffling ne’er-do-well for the Department of Culture Media and Sport he “researched Icelandic sagas for an MPhil [Master of Philosophy]”. During that time he also learned to speak Icelandic and Danish (he also speaks Latin and Greek) for reasons past understanding.

Before taking up the post at ACE he was studying for a PhD in “Roman Masculinity”. I swear on TheLabs™ cat’s life that I’m not making this stuff up. One of his favourite things is Virgil’s ‘Aeniad’, a very long poem written a very long time ago. Virgil himself is dead, very dead! His thoughts on the Potter books are, as yet, unknown!

We can gather from all of this nonsense that the man, to be sure, is an intellectual, a bit of a thinker. He loves his books, his languages and his music, so we’re OK then? Right?

Not really. Because the intellectual stuff comes later in the interview. The revealing stuff comes earlier on with this particular comment;

“Next time we make funding decisions, we are going to have to make comparisons between different bodies. And when we come to disinvest it might not be from organisations that are inherently bad.

It’s just that we might see something more fruitful coming out of investment with an emergent organisation, and therefore might have to walk away from investment in something that might have had years of not doing badly, but isn’t currently setting the world alight. We are going to have to work out how to handle those people who are perfectly, well, you can’t say they are terrible, but they are not as good as younger companies.”

Mr Davey slipped into the language of the bureaucrat all too easily. When was the last time a regular human being used the word “disinvest” when they really mean “we’re screwing somebody over for no good reason based on shaky information and adminstrative bungling”?

He almost had us convinced with all that Latin and Virgil talk. If there is one thing that we know about career bureaucrats, much like career politicians, its that they spend much of their time looking for ways to do bad things to good people simply to justify their own position. That’s why they use words like “disinvest”, their connection to reality is tenuous at best.

His first act in the new job was to launch an inquiry into ACE’s behaviour over the whole funding debacle they brought upon themselves. The details of this inquiry will be kept a secret, only the top sheet summary will be let out into the wild for all to see.

It’s business as usual at ACE towers.