Conclusions of the subjects 2010

Theme 2010: More and better jobs in the cultural/arts sector part 1

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

Seminar 2010
Organised by the CNV KUNSTENBOND, with participation of cultural trade-unions around Europe.
Location: SBI/Zonneheuvel in Doorn, the Netherlands
July 31 – August 5


CA (CNV-KUNSTENBOND) EZA/EU SEMINAR (July 31 - August 6, 2010): the 30th European seminar for the arts & culture sector. Appr. 250 participants (including scientists, teachers, professional artists, cultural workers) from 20 nations were present to discuss and study the theme.

By Leen La Riviere, Chairman of the CNV Kunstenbond (Christian Artists)

In the last 15 years, more and more has been written about the growing importance of the cultural sector as the new ‘employment engine’ for cities. ‘Cultural cities, cultural industries’ seem to have become a ‘magic word’. But what is the reality? Recently, in several nations in Europe, you could read sentences like: ‘No culture without the arts, no arts without artists.’ It would appear that work for artists seems to be on the decline. The source of all those interesting new job opportunities (we hope this to be true) lie within the new provisions and new infrastructure creating a wide range of job opportunities for artists*. This seminar wanted to think about more and better jobs for this cultural sector, besides the narrow view of “L‘art pour l‘art.” How can we step out the classic tunnel view? This seminar hoped to widen vision and opportunities and relate this to what artists’ trade unions can do to improve the work situations, work conditions, work payments etc.

*‘Artists’ has been defined as workers in every field of art, culture, commercial design, DTP, media, e.g. workers who are ‘cultural capital.’

LECTURES plenum, condensed:

  1. Sunday August 1, day 1 of the Seminar: “The Clash of Reality and Dream – Prof. Calvin Seerveld (UK)
    Going to a conservatory/professional art school/academy, students are still educated in the very romantic view of 100 years ago: the artist as ‘supernatural being’, the world waiting for these new elite of geniuses, the history of this elitist, prima donna attitude. But leaving ‘school’ today, the clash with reality is very, very hard; nobody in the real world is waiting for this ‘cultural elite’. The reality is that an artist has to work VERY hard and do a lot of things to find work. Most professional artists have a large number of survival jobs to make life work. The consequences are hard: too many times, no pension plans, no securities/insurance, bad housing, almost impossible to raise a family. This seminar day, we explored the real panorama from past till present: lessons to learn! And one thing is true, without the help of the artists’ organizations, trade unions, the situation may have been so much worse. But unless any cultural worker becomes multi-skilled and flexible to survive and to create, life may become traumatic., and will not be good for society and the economy.
  2. Monday August 2, day 2 of the seminar: “Breaking Out of the Tunnel” – Richard Hughes (UK/Greece)
    Not long ago, a musical needed a number of violinists for their orchestra. Those musicians refused this work (as they answered arrogantly that they had been studying CLASSICAL music). It became a national shame, as those musicians were living on welfare. Now such people have to accept every type of work. To break out of the narrow view on vocation, the first step is to understand that your art study is only the basis for much wider possible development. For a visual artist, there is nothing wrong with creating websites. Dancers can find work in product presentations. Other artists can be trained for therapy. The arts can play roles even in hospitals. Artists can become inspiring focuses in every type of mostly boring conferences. So can you see possible employment around you? Learn networking, change your websites, and present your portfolio better. Work on your attitude and learn marketing skills and what artists’ trade unions can do to help you. In this lecture, the voice from the real world was heard; any cultural worker needs to become realistic about the nature of your work, so multiskilled and run your creative work like a business but keeping your ideals, so go with passion.
  3. Tuesday August 3, day 3 of the seminar: “New Instruments and Provisions” – Dr. Zuzsanna Torok (Hungary/Germany)
    The cultural sector is ultimately flexible. New skills must be learned, but besides those new skills, we also need special provisions and/or understanding about:
    • Quality of work versus dangerous aspects (like too heavy loads or too long hours or hazardous materials in the workplace of visual artists);
    • Ecology/environment aspects
    • Work and no contract, so being your own entrepreneur, mini-company
    • Flexicurity: how to get the right insurance, pension plans, etc.
    • Coping with income instabilities (doing 100 jobs a year)
    • Education and life-long learning is essential for artists/cultural workers to survive.
    Here again is a special role for the (artists’) trade unions to implement, to help, to protect, to set up courses for life-long learning. Trade unions should be your lighthouse in so many very difficult and dark situations. Together, you can move from job seekers to job shapers.
  4. Wednesday August 4, day 4 of the seminar: “The New Artist AD 2010 is Born Today (a Metaphor)” - Steven Pauwels (Belgium)
    To cope with the new work demands, to cope with a changing Europe, to cope with flexibility, to cope with mobility, to cope with arranging insurance, retirement, family needs, taxes, to create your own life-long learning, to care for your health, we welcome this new cultural worker.


    But such a ‘new’ cultural worker does not exist alone in a universe without direction. Here again, we can talk about the support, help, skills, insights trade unions - especially which the artists organizations are able to provide. Here, the existing economy is slowly changing and becoming aware HOW important the creative workers are for their future. We need to move from share-holders norms to stakeholders values, and here the creative people are so needed for innovation, creative energy, addressing the human value as people form the engine of creativity and generate creative energy, for that is the future for any corporation, business and society. These new insights say: we need you, creative workers, artists….

  5. Leen La Rivière, Chairman CNV Kunstenbond/International Division Christian Artists, Netherlands
    Leen La Rivière had a closing note late each evening, as a summary of the whole day.
    Saturday July 31: This week, we work to improve our understanding and our qualities. We want to receive inspiration. We want to see change in society. We want to contribute and to have our place in the culture. So how can we have an impact? The lectures in the morning will lay out the master plan, but be alert since today’s situation in Europe is not easy. There is no easy road to meaning, quality, impact, work. Prayer will help us; a long term motivation and endurance will guide us. And in the day-by-day struggle, we are encouraged:
    “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Math.6:33
    Sunday August 1: “Called to participate in the kingdom of God” (mission statement 1).
    “The Clash of Reality and Dreams” (lecture 1).
    “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by the cross. Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to a religious day…. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality however is found in Christ” Col.2:15-17.
    Monday August 2: “To practice love, compassion, freedom, solidarity and justice” (mission statement 2). “Breaking Out of the Tunnel” (lecture 2). “For no one can lay any other foundation than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw his work will be shown for what it is, because the DAY will bring it to light 1 Cor.3:11-13.
    Tuesday August 3: “To shape culture in a creative way” (mission statement 3). New Instruments and Provisions (lecture 2). “For God, who said, ”Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” 2 Cor.4:5
    Wednesday August 4: “To influence society by various forms of proclamation” (mission statement 4). The New Artist is Born Today (lecture2). “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph.5:8-11
    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.” 1 Peter 1:3. So from this unique mountain top, with great views and great promises, we have to move now into the real world, with new understanding and new skills.
  6. And More: Each day, besides this plenum, there were a number of addititional workshops where various forms of cultural work and activities could be studied and discussed. Discussion groups were active, as well. And each evening had a number of showcases of cultural innovations to show new possibilities for work and ongoing learning (life-long learning, good practices).


  1. Cultural workers/artists need to break out of the tunnel view, “Art for art‘s sake.“ This does not mean that every arts expression should be measured according to commercial value. Other values for society are: enjoyment, personal purpose/enlightment, added value for the community, a help for a persons development, arts help to develop emotional skills, essential for the future of creative/cultural cities and creative/cultural industries which are part of the future of Europe.
  2. Cultural workers/artists are equally normal people like other workers, who wrestle for income to survive.
  3. More and better jobs may only become a real possibility if cultural workers/artists develop more and new skills. As an example, several NEW possibilities were seen at this CA Seminar: enlarged possibilities of instruments, high tech possibilities with visual arts, etc.
  4. For the future of Europe, we need, besides well trained and flexible managers, doctors, workers, politicians, well trained and flexible artists/cultural workers, as well. This means a change in the competencies of art school, conservatoria and such.
  5. Ongoing development of talents is important for the future of the cultural sector, so life-long learning must became available in every form of art and access to that should be affordable for the individual cultural workforce.
  6. We need to raise questions about the quality of training of all professional art schools in Europe. At such schools, you learn a skill, but we need multi-skill development to be able to survive in a harsh, economic EU reality. Such skills have to deal with learning about: business, promotion, marketing, cooperation, flexability, taxes, insurances, etc.
  7. Arts were in the past mono-type of work. Today, the arts world is a multi-job opportunity, so artists need a new radar for these multi-skilled jobs, and that means to be multi-skilled as a worker.
  8. Get rid of the emotional side of the arts, as for many artists, their art form/expression is their ‘baby’. Artists should learn to see it as an artistic ‘product’ to be sold. Artists should develop a new attitude with the same passion about being ‘being your own business’, a special entrepeneur.
  9. New work (snf income) is possible by using new technologies/media. Individual artists should start personal orientations and learning in these areas. A worker adds personal value by being more and better multi-skilled. So again: ongoing education, life-long learning should be each person’s motto.
  10. As a mentality/attitude, we should move from job/work seekers to job shapers. Good artistic projects create new work for others and in some cases, for many others.
  11. There are real borders to cross. Sometimes good opportunities are blocked by different rules per nation like in the areas of taxation, security, insurances, etc. So a cultural worker needs to be well informed, having the entire EU as job market.
  12. Crossing borders will not mean forgetting about very important basic rules for life:
  13. Personal safety, pension plans, ecology.
  14. More and more companies have become aware that they need creative people to make a difference in the market place. Creative workers are important for innovation, presentation, creative energy: all important added values for a company. Companies in Europe need to move away from the shareholders norm( financial value is everything) to the stakeholders values: the human value, as creativity has been proved to be so important in order to have better and qualified production of any product. And this proves that the Rhineland Model cannot go without cultural workers/artists. They are important stakeholders for each economic process.
  15. Specific roles are important for the trade unions. As ‘self employed‘ is moving upwards in the entire EU, the trade unions should organise this type of worker well. Many cultural workers, artists, and graphic designers have become self employed. Trade unions can advise on minimum wages per project, safety, health and such. And the trade unions can help stand up for the rights of these self employed workers as there are already too many cases of exploitation reported. The FNV and CNV in The Netherlands can organise such workers and that is beneficial for everybody. The FNV and CNV have now, for this work force, arranged pension plans, and special insurances (like health, unemployment, accidents, etc.)
  16. As well, politicians need to take their responsibility for these (semi)self employed workers‘ force. Too many times, governments have an arts policy, but fail to have a social artists policy. (In The Netherlands, an excellent example now is the WWIK regulation).
  17. No arts without the artists. Besides social policies for this work force, some strange differences per nation in the field of taxations have been reported. Politicians need to make sure that health regulations for normal laborers are valid for the self employed, as well.
  18. Major problems in the field of the social life of cultural workers/artists have also been reported because of the hectic/stress of self employed. This should be studied in another seminar.