Features | From Pivot Magazine

The CPA behind Vancouver’s foremost photography festival

Kim Spencer-Nairn left EY’s entertainment practice to found Capture Photography Festival, which returns for a sixth edition this April

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Kim Spencer-NairnAs the founder of Capture, Kim Spencer-Nairn marries her passion for photography with the business skills she developed as a CPA (Troy Moth)

You were a dancer before becoming a CPA…

I left home at 13 to study dance at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Like a lot of dancers, I was good but not great, so I moved on after high school. 

What do you enjoy about being a CPA?

As an accountant, I loved that I could parachute into a business I might not know anything about and, by the end of the audit, feel like an expert. I got to pick the brains of senior executives and understand what makes their business tick.

Tell us about your aha moment

When I left EY, I took photography classes and learned more about Vancouver’s history with the medium. Some of the world’s most celebrated fine art photographers live and practise here. It struck me: “How is it that Vancouver is known for this, yet we don’t really celebrate it in any way?”

How does your CPA designation help?

I was really excited about creating Capture, a non-profit festival that married my passion for photography with the business skills I developed as a CPA. You see a lot of CPAs doing that. We’re not all nerdy numbers people.

Explain your role with Capture

A big part of my job is funding the festival. When you’re working with big sponsors like TD Bank and PwC, understanding where they’re coming from is a huge benefit.

How does having a business background help?

A lot of arts and culture organizations are artist-driven, but most artists never get to see how the business works. It’s a big problem if they don’t have someone on the team or board with a business background.

What does the future hold?

I was just appointed to the Canada Council for the Arts board, so I’m slowly stepping back from the day-to-day of running Capture. Also, I’m 43, and I promised my spouse that my next venture would be for-profit.