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Working conditions of artists & cultural workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated already existing precariousness and fragile working conditions in the cultural and creative sectors. The pandemic has caused immense losses in revenue opportunities, drastically decreased performance and exhibition possibilities for artists and cultural workers. This resulted in an average -31% of the turnover (with peaks of up to -90% in some subsectors): more than tourism and the automotive industry, according to an EY study. On a longer run, this may affect changes in cultural demand and engagement, giving rise to exacerbation of inequalities within the sector, coupled with brain drain and impoverishment of cultural diversity. 

“Status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals” is the fourth topic of the Voices of Culture consultation series, the structured dialogue forum between Europe’s cultural ecosystem and the European Commission. As one of the participants, Culture Action Europe will put forward the key findings of its background analysis – realized at the request of the CULT Committee of the European Parliament and in collaboration with the independent researcher Mafalda Dâmaso – during this brainstorming exercise. The topic is high in the strategic agenda of Culture Action Europe. “The pandemic has accelerated already existing trends and exacerbated features of the cultural and artistic work, including unprecedented income losses, growing precariousness, inequalities, and social fractures, – said Gabriele Rosana, policy Director of Culture Action Europe, “As we plan the recovery from the crisis, we should put culture at the heart of these strategies, addressing in a holistic way the specific situations of artists and cultural workers”.  

On the 27 and 28 April, during the digital Brainstorming Meeting, 47 organizations will participate in the structured dialogue, which will prepare the ground for the Dialogue Meeting scheduled on 29 June.

The brainstorming will cover conversations on three main areas. Firstly, the income for artists and cultural and creative professionals, and the status of the artist. Ways and means of securing a decent income in the sector will be discussed as well as the role of the status of the artists in the different Member States. An important part of the discussion will focus on what is needed to achieve a European framework for working conditions in the cultural and creative sectors and industries at the EU level, as called for by the European Parliament

Secondly, the mobility of artists and other cultural and creative professionals. Based on available mobility schemes’ calls and their experience with different hybrid formats and blended mobility (in particular iPortunus, Erasmus+, creative hubs mobility schemes, and other related programmes) re-thinking mobility will be discussed in the light of the COVID crisis and climate change.

Lastly, the brainstorming will navigate the topic of artistic freedom and freedom of expression. In specific, developments and challenges to artistic freedom will be discussed, as well as reflecting on public interventions that aim to protect and promote artistic freedom and investigate the relationship between intersectionality and artistic freedom. Culture Action Europe’s recently published paper on artistic freedom highlights that protecting artistic freedom is a European value. While we would expect the rule of law to protect the freedom of artistic expression, legal provisions are becoming a tool for contesting that same artistic expression. There is little doubt, if any, that this tendency needs to be paid adequate and acute attention by the EU.

The output of this consultation will be a brainstorming report, prepared by the participants. This report will then be presented by participants to the European Commission at the Dialogue Meeting.