Christian Artists Seminar

August 5 - August 10 2017

Conclusions of the subjects 2015

Theme 2015: Fighting unemployment in the arts/culture by new forms of vacational training

REPORT, OUTCOME

  • From Aug.6-9 a group of 60 delegates, representing all disciplines of Art/cultural activities came together at the KSI, Bad Honnef to discuss vocational forms of training to help fight the high levels of unemployment in the arts/culture sector. This huge unemployment is the result of extensive budget cuts (related to arts/culture) on national, regional and local levels. Those 60 delegates represented: Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, UK.
  • This seminar was organised by the Christian Artists Association/CNV, with the help of other trade unions and cultural organizations and with the financial support of EZA-European commission.
  • The aim was to study various forms and possibilities of vocational training that might answer the problems of the arts/culture sector. Speakers covered the following subjects:  what are the real, naked figures of the unemployment in the sector arts/culture and what are the factors why some can survive (Leen La Rivière, the Netherlands); the ancient guilds (Lars Thies, Germany), Vocational training now (Lars Thies, Germany); organising your private guild system as a form of life long learning (Paul Donders, the Netherlands); the absence of vocational training and its effects (Silviu Ispas, Romania); the unique benefits of life long learning and sometimes distance learning (Ward Roofthooft, Belgium); personal aspects of life long learning (Teddy Liho, Bulgaria).
  • Lectures were supplemented by engaged group discussions, with help from a Forum (consisting of Dale Chappell, Portugal and Geoffrey Stevenson, UK) and a Moderator (Claire Kowalczyk, France).
  • After analysing the responses (verbal and written), the Council and Board of Christian Artists present the following conclusions and suggestions:

CONCLUSIONS and SUGGESTIONS

  1. The existing educational structures at conservatories, academies and art-schools do not engage with the ongoing crisis in the labour market of the arts/culture sector. This market has changed far more than the associated educational curricula. We conclude that graduating students require a more entrepreneurial mentality, and should have tools to survive in a climate that, thanks to budget-cuts on all levels of society, is increasingly anti-arts.
  2. The curricula taught at conservatories, academies and art-schools should encompass: learning flexibility, self-management, developing individuality and ‘added value’ in one’s work, self promotion and marketing, health and safety at work, working with agents and contracts, knowledge of changing marketplaces, and an entrepreneur mentality.
  3. As the market keeps changing and is in a state of total flux (and will be that way for many years to come), we recognise that existing curricula will never be able to keep up fully. What students know after graduation is often outdated within a few years. Therefore the only way to survive in the arts/culture sector will be intensive and intentional ongoing learning and training.
  4. This ongoing learning/training should be organised as a modern guild. The former student develops him/herself to a professional standard (which takes a few years), including periods of international orientation. This should be supplemented by a master (coach) who has regular contact with his/her “trainee”. Ideally, such a master should be an artist of the highest reputation, who has been a survivor for at least 30 years, and who knows all the ins and outs, the failures and successes of the artistic discipline. TRADE UNIONS in this sector can help organize this system and help select such masters. This whole system can be offered AFTER graduation giving maximum freedom of choice to the student.
  5. As for vocational, ‘in situ’ training, could such a model of theory and practice work in the arts/culture sector? Here we hit a wall of impossibilities, but there are as well some possibilities. For example:
    1. Fine arts: Vocational training is NOT possible, as most solo fine artists have no space in their workshop, and no time to give to an apprentice.
    2. Music: ensembles, orchestras, bands do not have trainee positions, since a trainee or intern could push a part-timer out of work; in an orchestra, for example, unions would never allow this.
    3. Dance: professional dance companies are unlikely to provide apprentice positions, for the same reasons as professional orchestras. But it may be possible on local level with private dance/ballet schools.
    4. We suggest that it is POSSIBLE with: architecture, applied arts, media arts, and graphic arts, due to larger offices and the economic contribution to the company that a trainee can bring.
    In conclusion, the model of theory taught together with practice is a pedagogical ideal and is worth pursuing. It should at the very least be sought and organised by the graduate him/herself in a form of lifelong learning (see point 4).
  6. Becoming a professional who can survive means as well becoming a member of a ’tribe’, or relating to a small group of peers of the same profession. The CNV Kunstenbond (trade union) had for many years such tribal meetings for the fine artists, the dancers, and the musicians. We suggest that trade unions in the sector arts/culture organise such tribal meetings a few times a year. It creates networks, provides needed focus points for inspiration, and increases possibilities for work/income.
  7. Analyzing this CA seminar itself, the Board and Council suggest this model: Two days of theoretical lectures and plenary discussion followed by some days of workshops in practical aspects of a range of art forms. Thus the CA Seminar becomes in itself a vocational training opportunity and would be HIGHLY welcomed by EVERY delegate. Only two days of theory, plenary discussions and such is not enough. A much more substantial outcome is possible when the material of the theoretical input can be practised in ensuing workshops, ideally organised in a tribal way. This ‘tribal’ or peer group organization, while allowing crossovers, helps new networks and contacts develop, and so finally increases the development of work/income. These workshops, best practices and presentations will help too in developing personal added values. This whole model will be an example to follow by other trade unions in Europe, as stake holders in vocational training models. Such seminar should be followed by connecting participants to masters in their field.
  8. Where possible the next CA seminar should move on with this theme, fighting unemployment and putting in practice the previous points.

The Christian Artists Seminar Aug.6-9, 2015 at the KSI, Bad Honnef
Report by Zsuzsanna Törok-Schmidt (on behalf of board and council of CA)

From the very personal approach of mastery through the analysis of the educational systems - with special accent on vocational education - of some European countries to the lifelong learning techniques: the lectures of the plenary sessions opened a wide perspective on the situation of arts and artists, and tried to show possible way outs to make it better for work and income. Presenting and analysing the examples of the past (e.g. guilds, apprenticeship, tribe-establishment), the roots of the recent single institutions of our society (trainee, trade unions) contributed not only to the deeper understanding of these institutions but served as examples for the possible ways out.

The opening words of Roswitha Gottbehüt, EZA (Germany), challenged the participants with the deep need of a good Vocational Education and Training system, referring to the good examples of those EU member states which have a long tradition in the Dual System (Austria, Switzerland, Germany). Being the education a member-state-competence the method of open coordination is needed to bring the different education systems closer to each other. Trade unions are convinced that the dual system helps fight unemployment, and they are committed to a qualitative education system.

The phenomenon of the profession-leaving was analysed in short by Leen La Rivière. CNV (the Netherlands). The – anyway about 30 years-old trend of - profession-leaving is the strongest among artists: 10 years after finishing school only 6% of men and 4% of women are still employed in their profession, in their art branch. If we could speak about the penetration of arts into other disciplines, but it is more than questionable. We can rather speak about 94% respectively 96% loss in cultural capital, i.e. trained hands and feet and eyes and ears lost, in whom a lot was invested through their art schooling. The most we can hope that they can use their artistic capacities in their work e.g. perhaps in personal management as coach or trainer – if at all. As arts are the ‘lungs’ of our society, we have to find ways to keep Artists/cultural workers at work. Secondly how can the EU vision for cultural cities be realised if artists ‘en masse’ become unemployed.

The topic of Mastery brought the lecturer Paul Donders, XPAND Coaching (the Netherlands). The artist’s journey starts – as for everybody – with being a student, becoming a professional, then a traveller, then a master - and an artist (grand master) at the top of the career. The participants found that the way itself is not a straight way upstairs, but it has ups and downs too, valleys of incapacities. On the other hand, whether somebody becomes an artist in this sense or not: the statement of the participants was that each has to fulfil the profession at her/his talent level – they identified themselves as a master, or traveller, but at least as a professional. Getting upstairs on this scale the mankind has less and less persons – at an artist-level perhaps some 1000. To be an artist means a profession / profile and a qualitative level of that profession, too. The lifelong learning – which is an unquestionable need of the modern labour market, even regarding the arts - means that artists remain students parallel – in lifelong terms.

The lecturer distributed the Mastery workbook - this served as a tool to scan the participants’ skills` portfolio. The base was on one hand the free self-estimation of the family and project talents, on the other hand the choice in a closed list of skills – in the 4 dimensions of people-oriented, information-oriented, material/mechanical oriented skills and creative-oriented skills. The participants discussed their skills’ pyramid - the preferences of the skills portfolio in small working groups. The further steps are to set a target in the form of a learning goal, an action plan to regular exercises (to develop), a time frame, and to have a guiding mentor.

The tribes play an important role in the development to the mastery. Learning tribes, family tribes as well as the possible movement tribes (which may be virtual ones) play an important role in this process. The learning tribe is the smallest (5-7 persons), and the members are at the same level of the mastery development, the function is the intervision (to put questions). The family tribe is bigger (50-150 persons) – all the members are artists (related to the subject of this seminar) and perform at their talent level. The family tribe is like a guild – nowadays it is a deep need to reinvent this institution. The movement tribe is the biggest, it is free, casual, based on coincidence, co-inspiration – maybe even virtual. The trade unions are typical movement tribes.

The artists should become entrepreneurs – to form a community at a project level, shop level, or even higher at a business level. It is the new challenge of the modern labour market. As most arts studies do not present such curriculum, here may be another possibility for trade unions to participate in lifelong learning.