We’ve always enjoyed Ekow Eshun’s performances as the absurdly enthusiastic but completely ignorant commentator Ekow Eshun on that marvellous satire of the contemporary arts scene that is Newsnight Review. So it’s come as a grave shock to us recently that his tenure as Director of the ICA should be inspiring so little confidence in its employees. This, after one worker there was reported recently to have said during a staff meeting, he “didn’t want to hear the word ‘vision’ coming from Ekow Eshun again – he had heard it at every staff meeting this year and it meant nothing to him”.
Actually, there’s a much more in-depth article about the state of the ICA here at Mute Magazine. They look at the accounts, which are available here (2009 accounts soon to be available, and might make interesting reading – for those who find accounts interesting).
Take Mute’s interpretation of the accounts with a pinch of salt though. They claim, for instance, that “The number of staff paid more than £50,000 rose from 3 to 10” between 2005 and 2008. Actually, it increased from 1 to 5 (a higher percentage increase – and all those 5 were being paid more than the 1). – Other things of note:
- Their bank overdrafts (which are their only substantial liabilities) have increased from £94k to £282k in the period. (Though not claimed as long-term liability, it probably is in reality – and puts their debt gearing up from 7% to 17%). Interest payments are obviously also going up.
- Debtors (i.e. money owed to the ICA by others) have increased from £489k to £1.1M between 2007 and 2008. That’s a lot, and one might be inclined to ask why it hasn’t been paid, and whether it will be. It’s affecting their liquidity naturally.
- Their fixed assets (buildings, fixtures and fittings, furniture) have decreased in value from £560k to £292k from 2005 to 2008. – This doesn’t mean their selling things; it just means that, in good economic times, they haven’t really been investing in their buildings.
- Their trading income (i.e. from selling books, from the cinema, from the bar & restaurant) in 2008 was £502k, but their expenses were £523k, giving a loss on the trading account of £21k. Compare to 2005, trading income was £1.1M, expenses £829k – profit of £270k.
- Yeah, and all that sponsorship money. What if it should dry up, eh?