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Creative Pulse Survey

Culture Action Europe, in partnership with Panteia, has released ‘Creative Pulse: A survey on the status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative sector professionals in Europe’. This report highlights the main challenges faced by professionals in these sectors and suggests policy actions. It responds to a recent proposal by the European Parliament for an EU framework to improve living and working conditions for cultural and creative sector (CCS) workers.

The report addresses the poor working conditions commonly experienced by artists and CCS professionals. These sectors are known for irregular income and atypical working patterns, leading to weak social protection and inadequate working conditions. Problems such as abusive subcontracting, bogus self-employment, underpaid or unpaid work, and coercive buy-out contracts are widespread. Additionally, high cross-border mobility combined with a lack of portability of social security entitlements creates further challenges. National differences in social systems and definitions of artists exacerbate these issues. Consequently, the survey aims to advocate for meaningful change at the EU level.

Conducted from December 20th, 2023, to February 9th, 2024, the survey gathered responses from 1204 artists and cultural professionals, as well as 293 cultural organizations, institutions, and policymakers across Europe. Respondents shared their experiences regarding working conditions, highlighting the urgent need for improvement. Key findings include:

  • Nearly half of all respondents, especially freelancers and self-employed artists, reported poor working conditions.
  • Over two-thirds lacked sufficient social protection.
  • A majority needed to work multiple jobs, impacting their performance.
  • Most artists felt they were not fairly compensated for their work.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic significantly worsened income and working conditions, especially for freelancers and the self-employed.
  • Women were disproportionately affected by poor working conditions.
  • A third reported feeling affected by restrictions on artistic expression, with almost half reporting increased limitations in the past five years.
  • Almost 90% of cultural organizations, institutions, and policymakers surveyed believed the EU should adopt legislation to improve working conditions, with 96% supporting this as a solution.

These results underline the urgent need for action. Culture Action Europe sees this survey as contributing to the European Commission’s analysis of sector-related problems.

MEP Domenec Ruiz Devesa, rapporteur of the Report on an EU framework for the social and professional situation of artists and workers in the cultural and creative sectors, stated: “This research is crucial, with 83% of the sector supporting an EU Directive on decent working conditions, and 96% supporting the adoption of a European status for artists, as requested by the European Parliament. With these results and a common understanding among EU institutions, solutions must be provided to address the precariousness in the sector“.

Culture Action Europe will continue to represent cultural workers’ interests and supports the proposal for a new EU Directive on decent working conditions. This directive would define their status and establish minimum quality standards to be implemented by Member States. Through this report, Culture Action Europe urges the European Commission to consider the sector’s opinion and act on the European Parliament’s recommendations to protect cultural workers’ rights, ensuring fair remuneration and artistic freedom in a democratic and tolerant Europe.


Image courtesy of Getty Images – ©Paulo Sousa