«Artists as Vulnerable Workers IDALINA CONDE CIES e-Working Papers (ISSN 1647-0893) Av. das Forças Armadas, Edifício ISCTE, 1649-026 LISBOA, ...»
In fact, they represent an ambivalent condition between centrality and fragility – a source of structural inconsistency in their status. They are at the edge of the “creative class” (Florida, 2005) as a new sort of motor for the “wealth of nations” (recalling Adam Smith’s famous expression), but they continually inspire the question more or less emphatically “Why are artists poor?” (Abbing, 2002). Ambivalence, too, between a double condition of autonomy and dependence, particularly on the public policies and grants that support the greater part of the artistic system. But they have been facing a crisis since the mid-90's, with its insufficient and reduced budgets – in Portugal, too, Several areas were scrutinized in the EU countries: the legal and organizational framework of work, individual work in particular, contractual relations, professional representation (by unions, associations or other bodies), taxation, social security measures for artists, and other professional issues such as transmobility inside the EU and from outside.
Certification, as a way of controlling access to occupations, and collective salary agreements could be part of regulation, but they are not generalized, not even agreed, at least in Portugal (Gomes & Martinho, 2009: 169-174).
where the expenditure on culture from the central administration only represents about 0.6% of the national budget.8
3. Activity, recognition and inequality On the other hand, dependence has to be seen within the art worlds. First as interdependence, both personal and functional, in a division of labor that goes from production to reception. A chain of participants and roles/performances possibly accumulated by polyvalent individuals, as described in the interactionist paradigm and ethnographic approaches (VV.AA. 2007).9 A double chain with necessary cooperation as well competition, and inescapable negotiations in several dimensions, in particular those connected with the authority of authorship and the making of valuable/vulnerable reputations.
Except in the case of more bureaucratic and formal institutions, this frequently takes place in small, cosy artistic spheres where relationships mix functionality, affection and power, under charismatic leaders. Trust, inter-knowledge and personal ties brought about in earlier work experiences are usually a factor in the professional commitment, management and recruitment of workers. Consequently, as Eve Chiapello (1997; 1998) observed so well, the ambivalent or ambiguous, and even manipulative, play between expectations and rewards between employer and employee, a kind of play that is typical of domestic regimes with its material and subjective dialectics of “gift/debt”, installs vulnerability as a significant mode of labour regulation in artistic areas.
Another perspective is to relate dependence to gatekeeping and recognition within artistic spheres. For instance, we noticed that in the period 2001-2003 only about 12% of the census category covering visual arts (painters, sculptors, photographers and similar) were indeed active and present in the main professional locations (art centres, galleries, museums, etc.).10 As a demonstration of the unequal geography of art worlds,
For a comparative perspective, see ERICarts and European Council (2008). Cultural policies in Europe:
a compendium of basic facts and trends available at http://www.culturalpolicies.net This chain is composed of clusters of activities, their tasks and the required skills (meaning constructions, interpretations or adaptations by participants), which can be organized into “an arc of work (that) is the ‘totality of tasks arrayed both sequentially and simultaneously along the course’ of a project” or “a line of work that encompasses different projects”. (Alves, 2007:95) Calculation based on 223 names related with contemporary art (Conde, 2003b).
almost half (49%) were in the capital, Lisbon, and the south of the country, with only 28% in Porto (and the northern region) and 12% in other places.
Earlier research has shown that the most recognized artists could represent only about 6% of the census value (for 1991) or even less. This happened with a list of 100 artists' names given by 20 critics and curators in 1997 and, even worse, a second reduction to around 3%, or less, would appear if only the top names were considered.
This pyramid of success is still strongly restricted by gender: only 14% of women were in that list.
Jointly with recognition, gender is in fact another great source of inequality in the arts, as previously seen in Table 1. Now, too, as demonstrated eloquently in Figure 1 by the scarce presence of women in top positions in the very masculine world of serious music, including a significant inequal share of women by musical instruments (Table 4).
So, given this data on the filters on recognition and the sexual division in musical work (Ravet & Coulangeon, 2003; Coulangeon, 2004; Ravet, 2008), as in other musical worlds such as jazz, with the gendered “specialties’” voice/instrument and singers/musicians (Buscatto, 2007), we see how inequality can correlate with vulnerability and with possible tensions between profession and identity. Better expressed, different opportunities provided to work and legitimation to achieve the status of an artist that contradict a meritocratic and 'universalized' definition of the artist at last only subjectively available for all.
Or, alternatively, as we have seen among women in music, disjointed perceptions between their objective conditions and subjective patterns for the professional identity. In fact, though recognizing different career paths for women and acknowledging how their decisions can be limited by the difficulty of reconciling a musical career with family life and motherhood, women have detached these questions from music itself and subordinated the feminine condition to professional identity. So the most important thing is a de-gendered individuality, affirmed in their artistic worth and performance. This is considered the only criterion for assessing talent, the decisive factor in this area, since it connects personal strengths with technical expertise at the level of composition, orchestral conducting and mastery of a musical instrument.
According to a survey carried in the main Portuguese orchestras and the Youth Symphony Orchestra in
2002. These data are being updated in a new research project on professionals in Portuguese orchestras, carried out by Idalina Conde and Fernando Ribeiro at CIES-ISCTE.
Figure 1 - Pyramid of Women's Success in Serious Music in Portugal (% and category)(2002-2003)
Source: Conde, I. (2003b), “Making distinctions: conditions of women working in serious music and (new) media arts in Portugal” in Culture-Gates. Exposing professional ‘gate-keeping’ processes in music and new media arts. Bonn: Arcult Media, 2003 (with João Pinheiro and Teresa Duarte Martinho). See p.
277-278 for details about each category and the methodology used to construct this pyramid. The main orchestras (data collected in 2002) are the Portuguese Symphonic Orchestra (associated to the National Theatre of Opera S. Carlos in Lisbon), the National Orquestra of Porto, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (belonging to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon) and the Metropolitan Orchestra of Lisbon.
We must note too that in 2002 there was one female Portuguese professional conductor (in total 13 conductors), however she resided and worked in United States at that time. Other two young women began experience on conducting in Portugal, but not in those major orchestras.
Percussion Source: Conde, Idalina (2003a) (with Teresa Duarte Martinho and João Pinheiro). “Mulheres nas principais orquestras portuguesas” (“Women in the principal Portuguese orchestras”), p. 58 Orch % = % in the overall orchestra instruments ; W % = % of women (line % by sections) Nevertheless, besides the general claim of de-gendered criteria for professional skills, gender is correlated again with another source for competition and inequality in these professional labour markets. As shown in Table 5, the high proportion of foreign musiciens in Portuguese orchestras, in 2002 mainly composed by nationalities from the East-European countries (between 46% and 58%) followed by other european regions (between 36% and 41%). 12 The exception was the Gulbenkian Orchestra with respectively 31% and 28% for these European immigrations and a high rate (42%) for musicians from other origins, including the United States.
Age and the changes brought about by new generations represent another line to be introduced into this scenario of double inequality related to gender and recognition, and the associated vulnerabilities. Firstly, changes have taken place in qualifications owing to increased access to credentials and diversification in the branches of artistic education. This process has been accompanied by feminization in schools, despite the constraints and barriers in professionalization, particularly in certain areas. Table 6 illustrates younger women's membership, in 2001, of the limited circle of professionals in the visual arts (the 12% quoted above for 2001-2003), of which, in a further breakdown, 67% are men and 33% women.
Table 6 - Professional circle in the visual arts, by age and gender, 2002-2003 (%)
Secondly, the inequality in recognition must still be seen in relation to alternative ways of dealing with it or getting round it, e.g. the strategies of newcomers in creating their own places, gates and corridors, to be able to work, legitimize themselves and be legitimized. So, if art worlds traditionally involve the generations in artistic struggles for recognition, the “grammars of these conflicts” (Honneth, 1995) have become diversified and complex in the contemporary scene(s). They have been more polycentric, network-organized and trans-local since the 90’s, a movement favoured by the trends of globalization, mediatization and new technologies, which have also brought new art forms (e.g. digital arts and electronic music), new modes of working and, also, redefinitions for artists. Figure 2 shows this prototype of a multiskilled and multi-centred professional in new media areas, while Table 7 illustrates a role versatility again differentiated by sex, in electronic music.
Source: Ritva Mitchel (2003), “Gate-keeping and constraints on gender equality in classical music and media arts” in VVAA, Culture-Gates. Exposing professional ‘gete-keeping’processes in music and new media arts, p. 186
This “internal” polyvalence may usually be combined, for survival or strategic career goals, with entry into various markets13 and work relationships – diversification split into poly-activity and plural-activity corresponding, respectively, to the accumulation of activities in the same artistic field and in other spheres, as happens, for example, in the dance market. It is a professional market where the richness of personal portfolios in terms of contacts, projects, employers and colleagues is crucial for survival in a context highly marked by intermittent occupation.14 This happens in general in the performing arts and other art forms that contain a strong element of incidental and mobile projects (Menger, 2005).