The paper adopts a lens of new materialism to analyse narratives of managers in the arts sector in response to the master narrative of austerity and proposed‘solutions’ using business models(including accounting). It explores the complex trajectories of the master narrative through the analysis of a diverse range of funding and arts organisations. Accounting, business models and austerity reveal rhizomatic characteristics as they diverge from their origin and are implicated in uncertainty about the future and a variety of unintended consequences. Accounting is depicted by many interviewees as not fulfilling many of its promises, thus creating uncertainty regarding its effectiveness. The new materialist approach offers insights into the nature and scale of uncertainty and pays attention to affect and emotion in interviewee responses, fostering an empathetic approach to social analysis.
Three implications of new materialism relating to accountability, individual responsibility and inter-organisational communication are highlighted.