Accounting and the arts. (1993)
AuthorsThompson, George Davidshow all
Two trends in accounting thought and regulation are discernible. Firstly, the scope of the resources and resource attributes which are recognized by accounting is being broadened-from a preoccupation with the financial characteristics of economic resources to also embracing non-financial characteristics and noneconomic resources. Secondly, some of the traditional "branches" of accounting are becoming less divisive-concepts, techniques and rules are crossing the boundaries and the practice of focusing attention on one branch to the exclusion of the others is yielding to more holistic approaches. The main concern of this thesis is non-financial recording and reporting and the role it can play. It argues that service performance reporting, as proposed and implemented in New Zealand, is conceptually incomplete and requires research to discover how it might become an adequate accounting tool. The strength of the accounting world-view lies in the way it represents the duality and reciprocality of giving and receiving. Building a non-economic reporting regime involves identifying the non-economic motivations underlying giving and receiving. Since the activities of enterprises are many and varied, different classes of enterprise are likely to be motivated by different mixes of objectives. Arts enterprises are one class of enterprises, chosen in this thesis for closer investigation. The role of accounting in arts enterprises and their funding intermediaries has traditionally been equivocal. Accounting has assisted in obtaining funds and in planning and control, but it has also been a tool for submerging non-economic in favour of economic objectives. Service performance reporting could modify these roles by giving non-economic objectives an equal billing with economic objectives, legitimizing the non-economic and altering the balance of power in favour of those with social and economic policy objectives or with personal aesthetic objectives. The identification of objectives and performance measures is, however, not an easy task and an analysis of service performance reporting by local authority art galleries illustrates this point.