Does the cultural sector really need another consultancy agency?

The great irony in my decision to set up Creative Help, a new agency providing practical strategic support to the creative and heritage sector is not lost on me. Creative Help was born out of my own frustration as a senior arts executive. Wave after wave of consultancy advice came my way as Director Shetland Arts Development Agency but any practical value was always outweighed by the cost and time resource needed to inform the consultancy work. I reached the point where I never wanted to meet another consultant – sad because most were really nice people. What I realised is that much of the advice received was simply confirmation of things I already knew. My colleagues and I understood more than anything else that what we really needed was some practical help. Help to allow us space to redesign aspects of our business to make the changes needed to effect positive improvement. Instead, huge amounts of time was taken up trying to bring well-meaning visiting consultants up to speed on the nuances of our sector, the complex and changing stakeholder landscape and above all the values that drove the significant talent resource at the heart of our organisation. I had done some consultancy work myself in the past supporting arts organisations through periods of change so I could see ways of approaching the consultancy role differently. I realised that the talent and knowledge in and close to our sector is considerable and that what was really needed to help organisations like mine, was just good clever people to bounce ideas off and take on specific tasks to allow...