There are no crises only tough decisions

There are no crises only tough decisions

By Russell Willis Taylor


Russell Willis Taylor promotes collaboration, placing a value on employees (as well as audiences) and embracing the potential of new technology and data analysis in this thought-provoking keynote.

I have been deliberately provocative in my title, but I mean it quite genuinely. Let's start by looking at the definition of crisis.

Thank you, Mr. Webster


  • 1 a: the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease
  • b: a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function
  • c: an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person's life
  • 2: the decisive moment (as in a literary plot)
  • 3a: an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending, especially one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome
  • b: a situation that has reached a critical phase

And given that this is an erudite crowd, let's go a bit farther.

Etymology: from Greek krisis, meaning literally: decision

So, it's decision time. There is no question that we are facing a turning point and a decisive moment, and what I want to do in the next few minutes is to talk about where I think we have a genuine crisis, and how we got here. And I will then try to redeem myself by talking about where I think we go from here.

By the end of this talk I expect that about 25% of you will be angry with me, 30% will agree with me but not like it, and at least 10% of you will be depressed. I will apologise in advance and ask only that the remaining 35% of the audience sees me to safety when I am done.

We work in the most wonderful of fields: making meaning and making music. But we have built a delivery structure that is clearly, in its current scope, scale and entirety, not sustainable. For the arts generally we are experiencing a crisis of legitimacy, as the outstanding thinker and writer John Holden refers to it, and it has been a long time coming.

Legitimacy is bestowed, or conferred, or awarded; it is not simply appropriated. Some aspects of what we are experiencing are factors beyond our control: changing educational systems, significant shifts in consumer behaviours, an extraordinary period of disintermediation thanks to technological advancement and a major and historical shift in the centres of wealth creation from the west to the east. There is no question that the outlook is tough.

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Resource type: | Published: 2013