Art and Labour Market

Root Event

4. Werkleitz Biennale real[work]
Art and Labour Market

Art and labour market are not opposites! Under the catch phrase „culture industry“, intensive discussions are currently held on both a national and a European level. In many European countries, culture industry is nowadays reckoned among the relevant, future-related economic sectors, and in some cities and regions it is an important factor for structural changes. However, its economic dynamic and political significance for the labour market are hardly noticed here in Germany.

All the same, culture industry has already achieved a lot in Saxony-Anhalt:
• In the business year 1997, the overall turnover of the culture industry amounted to approx. 3 billion DM. This corresponds more or less to 3 % of the total economic performance in Saxony-Anhalt, and thus to the volume of the economic sectors of „Agriculture and Forestry“ as well as „Transport and Communication“ (among other things: bus, railway, forwarding trade, travel agencies, messenger services, etc.).
• Said turnover is created by approx. 5,000 tax paying companies which represent approx. 8 % of all tax paying companies in Saxony-Anhalt. This is more than twice as much as in the sector Agriculture and Forestry (3.5 %) and in the motor vehicle trade, etc. (4.4 %) or in the area of Transport and Communication (5.4 %).
• Approximately 32,000 people, paying social insurance contributions, are employed in the culture industry.

The above figures show both the increased financial importance of art relevant for the labour market, and the increased willingness to consider arts under financial aspects.

For many people it goes without saying that creativity and culture belong to the vital energy sources of our society. Music, literature and visual art, architecture and design, to mention only a few, are an expression for a manifold, creative and artistic work.

But it does not go without saying, that these areas of creativity and culture belong to the essential growth sectors of our economy. Topics, such as book market and Internet, music industry and digitalisation, visual art and multi media technologies, film and audio-visual industry, as well as telecommunications markets confirm this fact again and again, every day. An increasing demand for creative and cultural performances, caused, among other things, by a higher life expectancy and a higher education level as well as increased leisure time, can be noticed in almost all European countries. Cultural tourism, cultural leisure-time activities and individual culture consumption via television, video, PC, multimedia and Internet have become core concepts in public debates.

Culture represents an important source of employment and location factor; it renders a positive contribution to social integration and characterises, to a high degree, the potential of a region. In this respect, the positive employment expectancies in this sector are mainly based on the development of information technology and the growth of the service sector as a whole.

However, so far, the concept of culture industry lacks a clear definition. What is culture industry? How is it defined? What is included and what is not included? These questions are asked again and again. For one group of people culture industry has become an important and increasing segment of economy in Europe, creating new jobs. Other people, however, when talking about culture industry, warn of the threatening sell-out of culture to economy. For them, culture is a public commodity, which may not be sacrificed to the economy of money, unless the financial support comes from the State.

In the meantime, the different research approaches may have led to the conclusion, that culture industry is basically a conglomerate of sectors referring to cultural and media enterprises and companies in the private sector of the economy. Thus, it includes all gainful employment activities which render services or produce and/or sell products for the preparation, creation, maintenance and safeguarding of artistic productions, the imparting and/or distribution of culture through media. Above all, culture industry includes the sub-markets music industry, literature and book market, art market, film/TV and media industry as well as the visual and entertainment arts. On the other hand, the entire publicly financed cultural activities, such as theatres, libraries, museums, etc. do not belong to the culture industry in a closer sense.

I would like to portray the opportunities and potentials of the culture industry by means of some guiding principles, contained in the socalled Essen Declaration on culture industry. This Declaration is the result of an international specialist congress, which was held in Northrhine-Westphalia in May last year, and is currently being discussed on a European level. By means of the following guiding principles, I would like once again to clearly emphasise the economic and cultural importance of culture industry.

Culture industry strengthens regional potentials and secures sustainable regional employment
Culture industry is to a high degree dependent on existing traditions and cultural diversity in the cities and regions. In times of globalisation, culture industry sharpens through its products and services the independent profile of a region, and thus improves the basic conditions of economic development in general. Culture industry causes employment effects outside the public sector. The business sectors which are characterised by a structure of small and medium sized enterprises are labour intensive and require large numbers of staff. Normally they are permanently embedded into local milieus and regional networks.

Culture industry is an independent economic field
The sub-markets in culture industry are a broad mosaic of interwoven lines of business. Due to the traditional, statistical survey systems the diversity is hardly recognisable. Therefore, culture industry must become an independent field within economic, cultural and urban development politics. This is the only way to meet the importance of culture industry with respect to the economy, the labour market, social and infrastructural policy as well as urban development. It is necessary to develop strategies and projects for the individual submarkets of culture industry which are adjusted according to different sectors, in order to improve the basic conditions of culture industry in the cities and regions. Thus, existing structures can be secured and innovative potentials can be developed. Business incubations in the area of culture industry need targeted sponsoring measures and individual support, among other things, through information, advice and access opportunities to risk capital.

Culture industry requires an active culture policy
Although the definition of culture industry neither includes publicly sponsored activities and programmes, nor the cultural organisations which are publicly financed or promoted, there exist joint interests and interactions in the sense of a certain division of labour. Thus, for example, in the areas of education and training, the pre-school education in music falls mainly under the publicly promoted sector of culture. On the other hand, the distribution and imparting of the cultural production in an economic sense, falls mainly under the working field of culture industry.

Furthermore, the public sector is increasingly orienting parts of its cultural institutions in an economical way, and thus, they grow into culture industry. As an example I would like to mention museum shops or socio-cultural centres, which have created a further branch in culture industry by their particular offer. Thus, institutions emerge which are placed in a border-land between publicly promoted culture and the economic sector of remunerative occupation. Furthermore, in almost all sub-markets of culture industry, there are intensive exchange relationships between the publicly promoted sector of culture and culture industry which often have a considerable importance for the development of the cultural landscape.

For example, both individual artists and films are promoted by the Federal State which, as a consequence, also strengthens the skills and competencies of the individual artists to be successful on the market. In this connection, talented young people were given the opportunity to write their first script, to film their first short film or to experiment with computer or Internet performances. In the meantime, due to promotional measures, some of these young talented artists are in the position to realise marketable film and TV projects. But there are also problems with respect to consequences. I would just like to mention the negative effects for ensemble theatres due to the daily fees for an actor’s TV appearance.

Publicly promoted culture and culture industry are not opposites. In contrast, publicly promoted culture represents an important foundation for the development of the culture industry. We should observe these developments in an open and critical way. Because it is ultimately a question of how culture and culture industry can enter into a relationship which is sensible and useful for both sides and which mutually accepts and tolerates their differing motifs and interests.

The Federal State Saxony-Anhalt has been challenged to create the framework for an optimal development in this respect. We can revive many cultural and artistic traditions which, in addition to the undoubted artistic value, always have an economic relevance. However, it is not a question of placing art and culture on the market and subordinating them to commercial interests. It is rather time to analyse artistic performances under economical aspects and to clearly address economic interests.