The Art of Risk

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Provocation #10: Maria Balshaw on cultures of risk management

In this provocation, Maria Balshaw, Director of the Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery, talks about cultures of risk management: a subject that is very pertinent to many of the discussions at our #ArtofRisk conference last week. For Maria, really good risk management does not nullify risks, but rather draws together the right expertise to allow ‘really bold, brave things’ to happen.

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Provocation #9: Mary Anne Hobbs on the importance of doing things on your own terms

In this provocation, BBC 6 Music DJ Mary Anne Hobbs discusses the risks that come about when more experimental artists find themselves with an opportunity to move into the mainstream. She cites the electronic musician James Blake as an example, recalling the time that he signed a major deal with Universal. Initially, she worried that this might put him in a situation where he may have had to ‘radically compromise’ what he was doing. She continues, ‘I worried enormously about the fact that creatively he wouldn’t ever be able to achieve what it is he set out to do, but I was completely wrong to have any doubts’, noting that when his second record, Overgrown, won the Mercury Music Prize in 2013, ‘he did it completely on his own terms’.

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Provocation#8: Howard Marks on the risks of drug dealing

In this provocation, Howard Marks talks frankly about how he abandoned academia for a career as a drug dealer, and the false sense of security that came with ‘getting away with it’. As a fugitive traveling with a false identity, Howard found himself increasingly willing to accept risk as a normal part of his day-to-day life.

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Provocation #7: Maria Balshaw on artistic risk

In this provocation Maria Balshaw, Director of the Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery, reflects on a high-risk event that was created by Marina Abramovic and performed by Kira O’Reilly, arguing that ‘you need to be scared sometimes because out of that comes really magnificent art’.

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Provocation #6: Sharon Watson of Phoenix Dance Theatre

In this post Sharon Watson, Artistic Director of Phoenix Dance Theatre, gives a very balanced account of the place of risk in contemporary dance. She argues that ‘if you don’t take risks, you’re putting yourself in a position to be forgotten’ and that risk-taking can become even more necessary in times of economic uncertainty, as ‘those who are cautious can sometimes find themselves disappearing’. At the same time, she recognises that irresponsible risk-taking can have potentially disastrous consequences for creative organisations.

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Provocation #5: Mary Anne Hobbs on risk, Radio 1 and John Peel

In this provocation the DJ Mary Anne Hobbs talks about her arrival at Radio 1 and the advice she received from her ‘unofficial mentor’, John Peel, about risk. Mary Anne also talks about leaving Radio 1. At the time many saw this as a huge professional risk, but it was one Mary Anne felt compelled to take.

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Provocation #4: Mike Knight on statistical approaches to risk

‘There isn’t actually that much risk in being a professional gambler’ argues Mike Knight, who explains his statistical approach to risk in our latest provocation.

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Provocation #3: Howard Marks on embracing risk

Howard Marks is a former drug smuggler and the author of the best-selling autobiography Mr Nice. In this provocation Howard argues that taking risks ‘injects a lot of fun and adventure to life’ and reflects on risk-taking in animals.

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Provocation #2: Maria Balshaw on economic forces and the arts

Maria Balshaw is Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery. In this provocation, Maria argues that ‘the economic downturn has been an impulse towards taking risk’.

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Provocation #1: Professor James Drife on risk in the medical professions

James Drife is Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Leeds. He is a former Vice-President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and is currently an editor of the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology.

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