Christian Artists Seminar

July 28 (arrival) - July 31 (departure), 2019

Conclusions of the subjects 2018

The seminar was financed with the support of the European Union.

SOCIAL DIALOGUE ABOUT:

The theme of CA 2018: Work opportunities 4.0 in the cultural/arts sector as a result of a changing and innovating Europe. This is a continuation and concretization of previous CA seminars.
Subtitle: working conditions, requirements of the new vocational skills, reform of education and training systems, employment trends and income distribution in society. Project no. 00-00-17-SE
This seminar is organised by the European trade union for arts and culture: Association Christian Artists: www.christianartists.org www.christianartists-network.org www.christianartists-academy.org with the participation of cultural trade-unions and associations around Europe. 
This seminar gave new insights and very practical help to the workers in the sector arts/culture as unemployment has become very high. Besides the contributions of 7 speakers, life interviews took place with a number of real time workers who are professionals in the sector of arts/culture. Besides speaking ABOUT the sector problems and opportunities, it is equally important to speak WITH the workers in the sector, and hear what they have to say or can contribute out of their personal work-life experiences.

PreambleFrom July 29 – July 31 the 37th International Christian Artists Seminar was organised by the International trade union of Christian Artists, with financial support from EZA/European Union, at the SBI-Zonheuvel conference centre in Doorn, The Netherlands. 162 Participants came from 19 countries. For 40% of the participants it was the first time they visited the CA/Eza seminar. 31% were in the age group 19-30 years: a great success to involve a new generation. 94% rated the lectures and presentations etc from good to very good.

LECTURERS were: Leen La Rivière (Chairman of the International trade union of Christian artists), Dr.Evert van de Poll, Culture lecturer at the Evangelical Theological Faculty in Leuven (Belgium); Judith Stevenson, former college Senior Tutor at Durham University, (UK/Scotland); Dr. Teddy Liho, lecturer in graphic arts, design and new media at theAcademia of Sofia, Bulgaria; Alexandra Smith, ambassador for ZZP-Nederland (the trade union of the self-employed in the Netherlands), Dr. Lasma Licite, lecturer in social entrepreneurship, business ethics management and human resources at theLatva University of Agriculture, entrepreneurship and communication). Dr Paul Donders, founder of the International coaching institute X-Pand (Germany, NL, South Africa, etc); Dr. Geoffrey Stevenson, lecturer in media literacy at theUniversity of Edinburgh, UK.
Each lecture was followed by discussions (participants and lecturer). The discussions were followed by probing life-style interviews with cultural workers/artists. The reason: besides listening to experts it is essential that there are real talks directly with the subjects, ‘the cultural workers/artists’. We should not speak about them, but WITH them. The interviews were conducted by Jill Ford (director of the arts for All Nations College (UK).
She interviewed  Jolien Damsma, professionalsinger-songwriter(NL);  Etienne Volery, professional in the visual arts (CH); REYER, professional singer-songwriter (NL); Martina Tak, professional in the dance arts (NL); Paul Lorenger, professional in the performing arts (Germany); DJ FLUBBEL, specialist in the new media art of DJ (NL); Talitha Nawijn, teacher of vocals, vocal coach (NL) and Prof.Ward Roofthooft, guest lecturer in marketing and management, university of Antwerp (Belgium) about the new entrepreneur skills artists need to have. 

What came out the working groups, debates, after the lectures, interviews and comments: 

CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTIONS:

  1. The disappearance of the employers. With the start of the crisis in 2008, governments, counties and city-councils started to make major cuts in their culture/arts budgets. Who were not hurt?: the national orchestras, the national museums, the national ballets, the national operas and such. This is the art sector for the elites. Here the work opportunities stayed more or less stable. If you work in this sector, you will be employed for several years. Only now and then do they need a replacement.  Who were hurt? The level below these national levels, so the production houses who put so many bands, choirs, small theatres and exhibitions on the road, giving work to the majority of artists/cultural workers. As these production houses disappeared very many artists/cultural workers became unemployed. The effect of city councils and their budget cuts: less money to local culture centres… less money or not at all for local music schools, local dance schools, local theatres… The result: for example in the Netherlands, 50% of all the local music schools, theatre companies, etc have been closed, literally thousands of music teachers, dance teachers, actors, fine arts teachers became unemployed. 60% of the galleries closed. And as such persons have a strong natural drive to create, make music, dance, play etc, they were forced into self-employment. 
  2. The problem of collective bargains. The national orchestras, the national museums, the national ballets, the national operas, the national media all have collective bargains. The remainder of local music schools and arts centres do have in most cases collective bargains. Before 2008 collective bargains existed also with the production houses and that secured fair incomes and all the other important social benefits. With the disappearance of these small contract partners, fair play, fair pay and social security also disappeared. So leaving the legion of self-employed creative workers/artists unprotected and without a fair income and no social benefits… no solidarity.
  3. The problem of the curriculums. From the various trade unions for artists/cultural workers and from many participants came real complaints about the content of the curriculums of academia and conservatoria, dance colleges, theatre schools and such. What is missing is that students must be prepared for the really harsh world outside of the education-system. They will be self-employed, and that harsh world is full of competition, low pay, too many hours, no retirement, no money for insurance, and no welfare when there is no work. Increasing health risks, (think about stress, families falling apart, illness, etc), and an ongoing living BELOW the poverty line. Since the crisis it has been a rat race to the bottom. SUGGESTION: Curriculums needs to be modified and should include solid preparation to become self-employed in the labour market. Here trade-unions should lobby with the curriculum-commissions and national politics to get these entrepreneur modules included in the curriculum. No student should leave the education and getting his/her degree unless they have been prepared for a life as self-employed artists/cultural worker. AND trade unions can offer special courses to deal with all these problems in this sector, how to survive, how to manage, plan, promote, negotiate. Courses for that are already given by ZZP-Nederland and by Christian Artists trade union. These courses prove to be of great help.
  4. Challenge for the trade unions. Trade unions are used to organise workers who are employees. So they negotiate with the employers. In the world of self-employment TOO often trade-unions think that every self-employed person is an entrepreneur. For sure there are a good number of self-employed by personal CHOICE, who are by nature of by training entrepreneurs. In these cases the attitude of trade unions about these self-employed can be understood. BUT almost nobody who is a self-employed cultural worker/artist chooses this status; they were FORCED into this. SUGGESTION: that is the reason that trade unions should take the step to organise self-employed cultural workers/artists. In the Netherlands this happened with FNV and CNV/Christian Artists. And with hope giving results. What happened in the cultural sector, happened as well in other sectors, resulting in 10% of the entire working population of the Netherlands being self-employed. This phenomena is now found in every sector of work. Trade unions can advise their members about safety, health, and can help with collective cheaper insurances, retirement plans, additional education/life-long learning, etc
  5. PROBLEMS of the self-employed: From participants: example a musician or singer-songwriter. Before the crisis it was possible to have a reasonable income with 125 gigs a year. NOW you need at least 250 gigs a year as all gigs are very poorly paid. Effects: increasing stress, increasing tiredness because of all that needed travel. When ill, you need to go on. Families are falling apart… no money to pay insurance or even health care. And absolutely no money for retirement. SUGGESTION: Here the trade-unions can help to offer or negotiate for cheap insurance, retirement provision and such. ZZP-Nederland, FNV, Deutsche Musikrat are active in those fields.
  6. UPCOMING PROBLEM: we all get older. For artists/cultural workers that creates risks, as many live on the margin of society. Statistics show that if you are born today, the chance of becoming 100 is already 50%. Those expectations will have enormous effects. A. Politics: the elderly out-number younger generations. So all the elderly can by voting dictate the priorities of national, regional and local politics. SUGGESTION: to start programs of generation solidarity. This same point exists within the trade unions: it is increasingly difficult to get young members. And the older members keep staying and voting for their own interests (especially related to their pensions). Here lies a real challenge for the trade unions to focus on generation solidarity. B. Health care: The growing number of elderly are taking a growing percentage of the national health budgets. We realise that politicians are facing difficult decisions on how to spend the health budgets. For our own sector it is known now that the self-employed artists/cultural workers are facing higher health risks. SUGGESTION: the trade unions who organise the self-employed (the majority of artists/cultural workers are now self-employed) should start campaigns to inform about health risks and how to prevent AND making possible that the self-employed can enter payable insurance to cover these health risks. C. Retirement: reports show that self-employed hardly save for retirement. And that will become a ticking time bomb as the state will not be able to cover the pension for all these growing number of aging self-employed. SUGGESTION: 1. Legislation is needed, that by law self-employed persons have to save a percentage of their income for future retirement. 2. Trade unions should open up their retirement funds of employed persons to accept a new money-stream coming from the self-employed.
  7. ALARMING LOWERING OF INCOME: Recent reports (Deutsche Musikrat, SER (Social Economic Council) Netherlands and notes from participants from other countries) show that the yearly income of a self-employed artist/cultural worker dropped to a YEAR average of 9.000 – 15.000 Euro. It is obvious that you cannot live on such an amount, and can never support a family. The reason is clear: work providers misuse the terrible situations in the sector arts/culture to lower reasonable payments… ‘for you I can find 10 others who do it cheaper’. Employers have fired their employees to hire them back as self-employed for reduced hourly payments.. This has become a rat race to the bottom , producing misuse as happened in the industrial era of 1860 – 1900. SUGGESTION: Legislation that will equalise the hourly payment: a self-employed person should get the same per hour as an employed person. Here again trade unions MUST step in to secure this, otherwise their members may become unemployed. This legislation can be linked to the recent legislation where workers coming from eastern Europe, working in the west must be equally paid per hour as workers/citizens in those western countries.
  8. INCREASING CHANCES FOR DECENT PAY/WORK: Out of the lectures, life interviews, debates and working groups it become clear that self-employed cultural workers/artists can do a lot themselves to create better chances for work/income. SUGGESTION 1. It has been proven that when you develop NEW personal added values (using new technologies, crossovers with other art forms, start cooperation projects with other arts/artists) the chances for work increase. Life-long learning is a must for the cultural/arts sector. Just graduating from a conservatory or academy is not enough. SUGGESTION 2: Entering life-long learning and participating in innovating technical courses. SUGGESTION 3: Over recent years it is proven that a lot of new work is generated by NETWORKS. So the strong advice to the sector is: dare to leave your studio, training rooms and INVEST time to participate in new networks, especially to crossover with other art forms different from your own. An interesting example are the working groups and communities of practice that have been started at the Christian Artists Seminars: they started to function as well as new networks, and are proving to generate new work. SUGGESTION 4: Sometimes younger artists have a real need for coaching by more experienced peers. Christian Artists provided access to an interesting list of very professional and experienced art tutors: see www.christianartists-academy.org . It is self-supporting, as trade union CA does not see itself as the mediator. So here can be found professional help. It is suggested that more trade unions create such possibilities for the self-employed. In some way ZZP-Nederland helps such connections too in other sectors. 
  9. Stimulate more work for professionals by stimulating the amateur arts. This needs some explanation. For example the amateur art of choir singing in the Netherlands. This country has appr. 4.000 local amateur choirs. They all want to go for good quality (that secures local subsidies and interested public at concerts), so they hire a professional conductor. A professional conductor can direct 6 choirs in a week. These 6 choirs together secure a decent income. So those mentioned 4.000 choirs give real work to appr. 666 conductors… But there is more: almost every choir makes a new CD every 3 years and to do so they need to go in a good studio, giving work to a professional technician, editor and producer. To record a good CD takes 5 days: 3 days for instruments (so they hire professional session musicians) and 2 days of mixing, editing, producing. Each choir gives at least 4 concerts a year, so they hire churches and theatres, therefore giving work for all workers on those sites, plus work for catering, and normally they hire a professional sound and light crew, giving work to those persons too. (How much work this actually generates is in a report from the CNV Kunstenbond). This all is as well true for amateur theatre, the amateur dance groups, etc. The drawing is like a pyramid: at the bottom you have all amateur forms of art, hobbyists and such. The larger this bottom is, the more work it creates for professionals. SUGGESTION: city councils and sponsors should invest again in their amateur arts world. The by-product is: participating in the arts helps integration, helps to connect people (like the effects of amateur sports)
  10. Finally a participant mentioned  research done by the city council of Amsterdam. The council wanted to know what the effect was of their investment in the arts/culture. The outcome was astonishing: for every euro invested, they received tenfold back (via the many persons who were going to see shows, concerts, theatres, museums, etc etc). SUGGESTION: politicians: keep supporting the idea of supporting the professional arts! And that can only be done via the cultural workers, the artists, so giving them new work/income opportunities
  11. Finally innovation: many participants confirmed: if I do not innovate, I will hardly get work. But to innovate, it should be possible. The above mentioned hindrances are blocking innovation. Trade unions should use their lobby’s and contacts to improve the mentioned situations, so we get fair opportunities to innovate as workers. Secondly we can learn a lot from the many new start ups in the ICT/Social media sector. Workers in the sector arts/culture should see themselves as ‘start ups’. So a challenge for a mentality change. Here artists organizations should help to get that challenge to their members