a workshop by Platform Beeldende Kunst – Koen Bartijn
When: 18th of May
Time: 11:00 – 16:00
Fee: Free – Registration required
In recent years, cultural workers have suffered numerous blows. The creative and cultural sector is struggling with a structural shortage of funds, and artists’ earnings are often the last priority in the budget. The compensation for self-employed entrepreneurs without employees (zzp’ers) is usually below the minimum wage (which is €9.54 per hour gross).
An artist who sells his or her work or a performing artist who is just starting sometimes earns less than €1 per hour. Due to the financial crisis, the severe cuts to the culture budget, and the disappearance of subsidies, many creative workers are in dire financial straits. For this group of people, the corona crisis was and is disastrous. The government made corona support funding available for the cultural sector, but this was far from enough: unemployment among artists is already twice as high as in the rest of society. Not only have many cultural freelancers lost their incomes because theatres and museums are closed, and exhibitions and festivals are cancelled. But also, as many flexible (side) jobs in bars, restaurants, cultural institutions and (arts) education have been suspended, so many can no longer earn a living. A large part of the cultural sector consists of zzp’ers and employees with flexible contracts; many of whom have relatively low incomes, small buffers, and few social provisions. It is therefore not surprising that they are experiencing acute financial difficulties now that the demand for their services and products is decreasing due to corona and has in some cases vanished completely.
Since the austerity of public funding of (not only) the arts in the aftermath of the financial crisis from 2008 onwards, Platform BK has been working to strengthen the socio-economic position of cultural workers in the Netherlands, and therefore fight against precarity in the arts. This precarity is first and for all the result of plummeting budgets for artists fees and funding for institutions and individual artists – but it’s also due to the acceptance of underpaid work by artists themselves — to gain visibility and recognition in the field.
To better the socio-economic position of cultural workers, Platform BK — together with different actors and stakeholders in the field — has been working on the Guideline for Artist Fees and the Fair Practice Code. Due to this collective endeavour, the previous Minister of Culture has officially implemented both policy instruments as subsidy requirements for art institutions and -organizations. In practice, this means that any visual artist exhibiting in a publicly funded institution will receive at least a minimal fee.
As one of the initiators of the guideline, we will discuss both the Guideline and the Fair Practice Code. We will begin by showing what the guideline looks like and how it works. We briefly talk about how it came into existence, what strategic insights we gained in the process of development, and what issues there are, we see after three years of implementation. We will give a short presentation, and we will as well reenact a situation of negotiation between a curator and an artist, to show how the guideline can strengthen the negotiation position of the artist.
We will end with a reflective note and discussion, situating the idea of fair pay within a broader system of values of the Fair Practice Code.
Break 12:30 – 13:30
The recent developments of the Guideline for Artist Fees and the Fair Practice Code are just the beginning of our common path towards a fair and sustainable working environment in the cultural sector. In addition to the lack of fair pay, the sector also faces other problems. There is a great shortage of sustainable and cheap studios and housing; there is little knowledge and insight from the community about the functioning of the private art market (after all, this important part of the sector falls outside the scope of the FPC and the Guideline); artists and students in the Netherlands without an EU passport do not have the same rights and opportunities as artists and students with an EU passport; education institutions are facing major problems that they cannot offer their students, teachers and other cultural workers a safe, inclusive and productive (learning) environment; and the smaller cultural institutions have too little (financial) means to comply to the Guideline and
Cultural Code, even if they have a lot of motivation to do it. Thus precarity manifests itself
in many different forms.
As working for P BK, we see the importance of a reflection and understanding of this many-faced precarity. As the working life of the cultural worker is interwoven with their personal life (more than in other sectors), it’s more difficult to analyze and specify the different elements that cause precarity. During the second part of the day, we will work with different individual and collective tasks that give the participants insights into their precarity. The focus lies here not only on the individual position of the participants but more so on the collective position. Once the participants learn about their collective predicament – the knowledge about this can also be turned into an emancipatory force: to improve your social-economic position together with our fellow artists, by challenging our way of working, the institutions, our public and policymakers. This workshop follows the extensive research and the accompanying method of Pascal Gielen entitled The Artistic Biotope*.
(*The biotope is an abstraction of the artist’s living domain – divided into four different sub-areas between which the artist moves in the everyday. The biotope is the result of extensive empirical research, in-depth interviews, panel discussions and surveys with cultural workers from different disciplines. It turns out that a sustainable career in the arts requires a balance between the four sub-areas: the domestic domain, the educational institute, the market, and public life (civil society).
ABOUT PLATFORM BK
Platform BK is a member-based organization that investigates the role of art in society and campaigns for a better art policy. They work towards a better appreciation of the visual arts and a stronger position for everyone working within the sector. Sepp Eckenhaussen and Koen Bartijn are the core team of P BK since January 2020.
For more info check: www.platformbk.nl