This Habermasian qualitative study considers the nature and extent of accounting and austerity colonisation in the context of widening arts engagement in England in a period of financial austerity. It also explores some of the key impacts of austerity and accounting monitoring and how arts organisations coped with them. The findings suggest that the discourses of accounting and austerity were associated with a variety of forms of colonisation and limited resistance along a continuum. The discourse of austerity was portrayed as much more problematic and colonising than the extensive accounting monitoring which was taken for granted. The discourses and practices of austerity were implicated in morally ambiguous and role-conflicted organisational behaviour suggesting sublimated legitimation crisis tendencies but there was no evidence of widespread Habermasian motivation crisis in relation to austerity or accounting monitoring. Some organisational members responded actively to accounting colonisation, and as a reorientation or reversal of colonisation, created transformations of accounting through a range of narrative and visual reporting methods. Their evaluation of such qualitative data revealed an expression of autonomy in the face of pathological accounting colonisation, whilst paradoxically creating self-challenging monitoring procedures.