Conclusions of the subjects 2012

Theme 2012: Jobs under pressure and life under pressure in the cultural sector

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

CONCLUSIONS & SHORT SYNOPSIS of the lectures and debates
Organised by the CNV KUNST en CULTUUR, with participation of cultural trade-unions around Europe.
Location: KSI in Bad Honnef, Germany

July 27 - August 2, Seminar 2012
The 32nd European Christian Artists Seminar
Postbox 81065, 3009 GB Rotterdam;
Introduction, by Leen La Riviere, chairman of the CNV Kunst en Cultuur (Christian Artists trade union):
WHY do we need a SOCIAL DIALOGUE about Jobs under pressure AND Life under pressure


Europe faces a moment of transformation. The crisis has wiped out years of economic and social progress and exposed structural weaknesses in Europe's economy. 80 million of EU population were at risk of poverty prior to the crisis. 19 million of them are children. 8 per cent of people in work do not earn enough to make it above the poverty threshold. Unemployed people are particularly exposed. The financial and economic crisis that started in 2008 resulted in a significant loss in jobs and potential output and has led to a dramatic deterioration in public finances. The crisis also underscored the close interdependence of the Member States’ economies and labour markets.
Keeping this situation in mind the seminar wants to shed light on the situation of a specific group of workers – artists and cultural workers. Artists in this case are defined as workers in every field of art, culture, commercial design, day time production and media and build the “cultural capital” of European society. Over the last 15 years the growing importance of the cultural sector as a new ‘employment-engine’ for cities and countries has been recognised. The European Commission has put stress on the potential of cultural cities and cultural industries in their “Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries” report, published in April 2010.
Due to the current economic situation and the growing budget cuts within the EU, employment possibilities for artists seem to be on the decline. At the same time the amount of tax money spend for the cultural sector is decreasing. Interesting new job opportunities lie within the provision and creation of a new cultural infrastructure and the growing awareness for the potential of cultural cities.
This seminar wants to think about more and better jobs for the cultural and creative sector and widen vision and opportunities for new employment possibilities. Focus shall be put on artists’ trade unions and their possibilities to improve the working situation, the working conditions and the payment situation of their members and to elaborate strategic insights for new strategic policies.
As mentioned in the Strategy “Europe 2020” it will be important “to turn creative ideas into innovative products, services and processes that can create growth, quality jobs, territorial, economic and social cohesion”. Here the cultural and creative sector can play a key role in elaborating new ideas. Due to the fact that the Europe 2020 strategy should be implemented in partnership with all national, regional and local authorities, closely associating parliaments, as well as social partners and representatives of civil society it could also be a great chance to integrate workers from the cultural and creative sector on a local, regional, national and European level in the development and implementation of creative and innovative ideas.
The cultural and creative sector is characterised by the high mobility and flexibility of its mainly self-employed workforce. The current situation on the labour market for this group of workers is rather difficult due to several reasons:

  1. The amount of tax money spend for the cultural and creative sector is decreasing
  2. The high flexibility is leading to an unstable employment situation
  3. The working conditions and the payment situation is rather bad
  4. The self-employed workers in the cultural and creative sector are difficult to organise by trade unions
  5. It is difficult to bargain collective agreements or a minimum salary within this sector due to very different working realities

The cultural worker & family life: heading for disaster? The clash of budget cuts, less work and family values asking for solutions… A short insight:
A student leaving art school ( music, visual arts, performing arts, media arts, etc) has almost no idea how difficult it is just to survive in the real world of arts and culture. This person has to be ultimate flexible, accepting any type of work, just to make some money to survive. After a period of time this life sucks: so many hours of hard work in a week, nobody pays overtime, taking health risks (making 16 hours a day to keep a deadline), no time for a bohemian lifestyle (well do it and you have no income). And one day a miracle happens: you find a partner! Absolutely a great experience, but to maintain a real relationship takes time! So how to meet this personal life’s demand with the harsh work conditions? Well, too many relationships could not last, because this lack of time. And if time is not the problem, continues sufficient income is a problem, another major stress factor to undermine work and familylife. Or another tragic aspect: a child is coming. Panic in the house, how to meet this new time consuming demand? And how to meet upcoming costs related to this phenomena. And the real facts: how many children did suffer from an absent parent and expressed frustrations in the family because of no work and no income?? The same is true about pastor-marriages, managers-marriages, shift-time workers, etc. The pressure coming from a libertine-american management view, that anybody should work (flexability) even at unusual times, when the workload (or the boss) requires (short term values), is facing now the question about what means family life, raising children, personal identity and responsibility (long term values like decent pay, ongoing enough income, healthrisks, social security, pension-plans, etc ) and being able to pay invoices coming in…
The Christian Artists Seminar of 2012 has studied these economic, social and political aspects about budget cuts, poverty, gender, work & family. As investing in the future of Europe is more as investing in economics.
Sunday July 29: Day 1: How did we get into this mess
Monday July 30: Day 2: Let’s be honest
Tuesday July 31: Day 3: Values that last
Wednesday August 1: Day 4: Personal decisions to make

The schedule of each day:
1,5 hour workshop about the social dialogue by Joachim Herudek & Zsuzsanna Török
Subjects: Deregulations, budgetcuts and the effects on the income position of cultural workers; suggestions to get out of this real problem; preparations for the plenumsubjects
1 hour plenum, the speaker, social dialogue
30 min Forum by Dr. Geoffrey Stevenson: direct questions to the speaker, social dialogue
1 hour Working Group debates social dialogue about lecture and questions. Input as well from the experiences and outcome of the mentioned day-start workshop by Joachim Herudek & Zsuzsanna Török; We kept the speaker in the working group discussion, this proved to be very practical. Report of Forum and working group by Zsuzsanna Török
Followed by evaluations and privat studies c.q. other workshops; in these workshops a continued discussion HOW to integrate the seminarthemes into practical work, because if this is possible the influence of the themes by means of concrete cultural projects will reach large numbers of audience in the various European nations
Evening program having at least 1 cultural presentation about the subject and social dialogue speech from Leen La Rivière (Chairman) about the practical implications for each individual, bringing together the key aspects of the lecture and the bridge to the reality of our daily life
The special cultural presentations about the social dialogue
Sunday: Anlo Piquet (France): the slavery of women in a niqab and the slavery of western women due to time stress.
Monday: Nicolay Petrov (Bulgaria): enriching public and social buildings to architecture of hope
Tuesday: Jenny Verplanke (Belgium): Art for all, by creativity helping underpriviliged children, like Roma in Romania, slumbs in Kenya
Wednesday: Marta Jacobovits: the importance of peace with the environment via materials
Thursday: Christian Dance Company (Netherlands): from conflict to peace
N.B. In these evening program EVERYBODY was present, being part of the morning workshops, the morning plenum, the Forum, the working groups and the afternoon evaluations and afternoon workshops.

Participants were coming from 14 nations: Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, United Kingdom, Turkey

Speaker: Prof. Klaas van Egmond, University of Utrecht, Netherlands, summary:
Historical analyses how we got from ‘normal’ family life into this hectic family life of today. What have been special effects in the life of the cultural (selfemployed) workers, artists, etc.
Let’s face the figures, it will not make you happy. The American libertine economic view (workers are only a cost factor) against the Rhineland social economic view (workers are stake holders); and what both views mean for our daily life. Besides this short historic overview, we move to the current problems originated by financial crisis, national budget cuts, rising unemployment (with exception of The Netherlands), fast growing unemployment in the cultural sector leading to poverty and break up of family life. The system of the crisis is almost like a perpetual motion (perpetuum mobile); so can we break out? The lecture was well documented with many pictures, historical facts.
Discussion group, reporter Zsuzsanna Torok:

  • Public- and value-based – media is needed, and transparency in communication
  • Need to control the financial system (regulate, rethink the Basel agreement for banking)
  • Raising awareness (about the risks in the financial systems) in the communities (go and see the film ‘Inside Job’).
  • Fulfil the mission of the arts: to give voice to truth and beauty together
  • Profiling, to save the communities/Europe – all parties should improve working together

Speaker: Dr. Aart Jan de Geus (Oeso, Bertelsmannstiftung), Germany.
In this lecture we had a closer look into the reality of the daily life of the cultural workers, artists, selfemployed and such. How is such life dictated by the rules of flexability? What does that mean for income and what does that mean for any aspect of social and family life. How to redeem the clash of priorities: the need for family income and the need for a family life. But sometimes artists hide in the so called ‘I am too busy life’ and do not set priorities when possible. Let’s talk about divorces, trauma’s and what if there were made just other decisions. Real stories of real people. And several personal situations are caused by external factors. Before the crisis: a painter could sell 1 work a week, it became 1 work per month, then 1 work a year, how to survive? Or a musician could participate in doing 3 concerts a week, it became 1 per week, later 1 per month and often less paid? How to survive? And less possibilities for social security? How many artists do clean floors to survive, as workgivers prefer cheaper immigrants…So: Europe is in crisis and that will last for many years. Solutions? 4 EU scenario’s, but what will that help you in every day’s life? So we need to develop the art of survival and that start by being PREPARED for anything, next use your creativity; and find balance between artistic freedom and commercial art; whatever the request to you may be, it is work and worth doing it. And use your networks, get into new networks to find work and possibilities.

Discussion group, reporter Zsuzsanna Torok:

  • The fact that labour agreements are less done (in the cultural sector hardly exist) is a great challenge for the trade unions.
  • the bubble-productivity and the bonus-system of the financial sector have devaluated and corrupted real work as such.
  • Income as such is not deciding on the value of work; the appreciation of work should be given back to any type of workers/work; and work should be rewarded appropriately; that only can avoid poverty.

Speaker: Dr.Célia Casta, Portugal
Some cultural workers, artists, selfemployed are driven by the urgency to make a living, earn money… others are driven by their call. Driven by Call seem to be a ‘holy caw’ and much is sacrificed for that; sometimes too much. Here we face the reality of broken dreams and personal frustrations. Why do some circles accept these extreme beliefs c.q. business convictions, work suppliers? Resulting in major healthrisks, breaking up of families, etc.
Let’s face the short term needs, like to earn money and compare with long term value’s like a true social life. What are key value’s to hold on and how can we make this work. A problem to deal with on a personal level: is your identity destined by your profession? Or do you really know who you are. If you know who you really are, you can cope with the harsh reality. So the next steps to take are the values: what is your perspective, next motivation, next understanding the real reality, finally priority setting. Trade-unions have to step in, that the flex-workers, selfemployed are not exploited and have the basic needs secured (including a form of social security, pension plans and such). But overall: it is your conviction in action that will make things work, run with a purpose!
Discussion group, reporter Zsuzsanna Torok:

  • Europe has to fill it’s cultural space, otherwise another culture (like bonus culture) fills in. resulting in superficiality, displanting the new generations, resulting in good consumers of a consume culture, addicted to tv, games, Ipods, Ipads and slave of financial products.

Part IV: PERSONAL DECISIONS (and social and political) TO MAKE.
Speaker: Prof.Ward Roofthooft, Belgium
Well, listening and understanding during the last days the real nature of the situation of cultural workers, artists, selfemployed. First there are personal decisions to make to balance the long hours to get income with the needs of a social life/family life. Second there are some social decisions to make, to bring balance in all aspects of life: including help of the trade-unions. Third: several decisions will have political implications. What are those and how can we realise political decisions into fair regulations. And here too is a role for the trade-unions. So lets make this very practical and workable: Life is like a pentagon, the sides are: Physical fitness (being an artist/cultural worker needs 100% health); Emotions; values; Intellectual curiosity and Professional excellence: having those 5 in harmony, will help you to survive any crisis invading your life and work: so do the right things and do the right things right. Make that practical by clear ‘to do’ lists and shifting those into priority levels.
Discussion group, reporter Zsuzsanna Torok:

  • We need new managements. We live in a crisis and post-crisis phase, because some key people in the financial sector did not take responsibility (for good, trustworthy banking). The system must change, just damage control is not enough.
  • More activities of the trade unions in the financial sector
  • Artist should involve themselves more in societal questions and express their views (like on the origin of the banking crisis).
  • Practicing all the existing possibilities of each democracy in Europe (every body’s home country)
  • get very active in networking

Daily Comments, Leen La Rivière, Chairman of the CNV trade union of artists (Christian Artists). Daily comments were each day at 21.30 Summary:
All lectures make clear the real nature of the problem of the crisis. But we are called to action, do not let these paradigma-moments slip out of our hands. There are ways out. But that calls any cultural worker/artists to a clear evaluation of the personal situation. To set priorities, to make changes (when/where needed). The sector doesnot need to slowly slip into oblivia. No, for the future of Europe a powerful cultural sector is essential, in that awareness, the key to that are active and powerful cultural workers/artists.


  1. Europe is more than money and economy, see the Treaty of Maastricht 1991: We are as well cultural values.
  2. The EU document 2010 about Cultural cities/Cultural industries asks for active regulations and implementations to stimulate city-policies. The hard core must be how to keep and to use artists of all disciplines within cities. Now many cultural workers/artists face small till immense budget cuts on culture across Europe. When the cultural workers/artists are getting this financial crisis, the EU targets will never be fulfilled. City policies should have clear financial stimulating regulations for artists. This includes possibilities for workshops, innovating rooms, technical and multi-media facilities, etc.
  3. To regain trust in the financial sector, very strong control on the banks, baking managers and directors must be implemented
  4. To regain trust in political, financial and economical leadership the whole system of bonuses must end. As long bonuses exist, the target of these persons are faced on short term profit for their own bonuses, instead of long term goals of a real economy, good functioning companies.
  5. Trade unions and political parties are called to review the economic basis of the EU. The EU is more than just money, as already agreed in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1991. These cultural values have as well a social agenda. That means that Europe stands on the Rhineland model, where all partners are STAKE-holders (and where labourers are the precious social-cultural capital) and the EU will not surrender to the stake holders USA mentalities (where JUST profit is the norm and where labourers are a cost factor)
  6. Cultural workers/artists are as individuals called to evaluate their own life. Even in the most difficult situations they can still giving a voice, combining truth and beauty
  7. Cultural workers/artists are as individuals called to evaluate their own life. They should set new priorities, implement time-management, enter new networks. This all will help to get new work and income.
  8. Cultural workers/artists are as individuals called to evaluate their own life. Are they really PREPARED for anything that lies ahead? This calls as well for an adapted creativity.
  9. Cultural workers/artists are as individuals called to evaluate their own life. Getting more involved in the real questions of the society, local community
  10. The trade unions should getting involved in contracts, agreements, collective bargains in the cultural sector to help life conditions, health, pension-plans, reasonable income for cultural workers/artists

This summary and suggestions show that the project goals were reached as structural conditions in this work sector are changing and what those changes mean for the trade unions.


  1. The outcomes and experiences of this project will be shared with all participants
  2. They all will get by e-mail the complete lectures, other contributions, outcome working group, outcome workshop series
  3. The participants are by their nature (cultural workers, artists) multiplicators; they will take along in their work, presentations and other activities the results and share this with many other people during the coming working season
  4. Publication on the websites