Shutdown Program #7

On the Urgency for Changing the Precarious Conditions in the Art World
Tuesday, June 30, 2020, 7 p.m.

Online, Onsite, Live

Daniel G. Andújar, artist, Barcelona
Fabiola Fiocco, Francesca Masoero, Giulia Mengozzi, Art Workers Italia [AWI]
Iris Dressler, Director of the Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart
Michael Kress, Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin and the Initiative Ausstellungsvergütung

An event by the
Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart and Deutscher Künstlerbund, Berlin

A new network was established in Italy with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the Art Workers Italia [AWI], which advocates for fairer, more appropriate, and more stable working conditions in the art world on a national and international level. This informal group of contemporary art workers has simultaneously been based from the very beginning on a critical examination of its own structures, working methods, and ethical agreements. For, what the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic teaches us is that there need to be not only different economic conditions in the art world, but also different self-conceptions and structures. It is about the question of how, why, and under what conditions we want to work in this field in the future.

Within the framework of its Shutdown Program, the Württembergischer Kunstverein will address this question on Tuesday, June 30, 2020, starting at 7 p.m., in the context of a live, online and onsite conversation. Besides the current initiatives of the Art Workers Italia, what will also be discussed are approaches and models with respect to exhibition fees and other agreements between artists and institutions that have been elaborated by artist associations in Germany and Spain in the past years: and why they have so far failed (Germany) and/or failed following some groundbreaking successes (Spain). The aim of this and other events, discussions, and activities that are planned is to think about how the structures of the art world can and must be changed on a local, regional, and international level in the long term and sustainably. The event will be conducted in cooperation with the Deutscher Künstlerbund.

The Issues
The frequently insufficient, exploitative, and tenuous conditions of freelance art workers in particular—meaning of artists, curators, mediators, technicians, installation assistants, interns, museum guards, cashiers, and cleaning teams, et cetera—have been criticized and discussed for decades. One of the reasons for their, in most cases, inadequate payment has to do with a funding policy that subjects a majority of public art institutions to a permanent structural deficit and notoriously pushes for the reduction of personnel costs. Exhibition fees for artists are thus, if not completely prohibited, only envisioned in rare cases, not to mention, explicitly desired.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown how drastic the precarious work situation in the world of art and culture is. Even in countries that are currently providing self-employed cultural workers with more or less generous aid packages, there are already signs that the situation will only intensify severely in the short or long term: since in the course of the pending budget reforms, serious cuts in the field of culture are to be feared.

Should the current dramatic experiences of the fragility, insecurity, and vulnerability of the world of art and culture not instead lead to the opposite, meaning to a funding policy that permits fair, diverse, and inclusive working conditions in this field rather than further increasing the exploitation of precarious workers?

The Conversation
In our live, online / onsite conversation, we would like to address this and other questions on a European level. The starting point is thus the establishment of the Art Workers Italia [AWI] during the corona lockdown in Italy. Fabiola Fiocco, Francesca Masoero, and Giulia Mengozzi will present the formation, objectives, structures, and ethical foundations of this network of already more than 2,300 members.
Daniel G. Andújar, who was active for a long time in the Spanish association of visual artists, will talk about some of the outstanding successes that the association was able to achieve with respect to the remuneration of artists and the conception of fairer contracts between them, public institutions, private collectors, et cetera. With the last financial crisis and due to other issues, these far-reaching rules were weakened if not made completely irrelevant. Andújar sheds light on the reasons why this occurred.
As a third example, Michael Kress will report on the situation in Germany, where a debate about the introduction of binding exhibition fees has been taking place regularly for decades, but has still not been able to win through. What is the reason for this?

Based on these three examples, we would like to discuss what strategies, demands, working methods, and attitudes are necessary on a local, regional, and international level so as to change the existing conditions and formulate new perspectives for the world of art and culture.


Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart

Limited number of participants
Online: 50
Onsite: 20

Registration at
(Please indicate whether you would lie to participate online or onsite)

#Other Future #Other Economies #Exhibition Fees #Unconditional Basic Income #Artists Fees #Art Workers #Precarization #Systemic Change


Art Workers Italia
"[ART WORKERS ITALIA] is an informal, autonomous, and non-partisan group of contemporary art workers formed in response to the current crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic. [AWI] includes all figures who operate within public and private organisations and institutions for contemporary art – such as museums, foundations, cultural associations, universities, independent spaces, galleries –  and/or those who carry out freelance work in collaboration with these organisations. Together, we have convened under [AWI] to communicate our demands with a single [INDEPENDENT VOICE] …"

Deutscher Künstlerbund
"Since its foundation, the Deutscher Künstlerbund … has competently and dedicatedly assumed politico-cultural duties and responsibilities in our society. It perceives itself as an association of visual artists … The members of the Künstlerbund cooperate in national and international governmental committees, boards of curators and panels which play an advisory role in the debating of legislative regulations."

Initiative Ausstellungsvergütung
"The Initiative Ausstellungsvergütung (exhibition remuneration initiative), founded in the summer of 2016, is an amalgamation of the nationally active artists' associations and the Verwertungsgesellschaft Bild-Kunst, with the aim of jointly drawing attention to the existential living and working conditions of visual artists. The Initiative Ausstellungsvergütung aims to lend emphasis to the overdue demand for remuneration for services rendered by artists in exhibition practice and to pave the way for exhibition remuneration to enter political decision-making levels." (autimatic translation).


Erik Krikortz, Airi Triisberg, Minna Henriksson (Eds), Art Workers. Material Conditions and Labour Struggles in Contemporary Art Practice, Berlin, Helsinki, Stockholm, Tallinn 2015
"To some extent, this book is a retrospection of recent art workers’ struggles, aiming to document, contextualise and revisit them from a critical perspective. At the same time, this book is also an attempt to capture the present situation of material conditions and organising practices in the art field together with related challenges and potentialities. Last but not least, this book is motivated by an aspiration to imagine desirable futures that are constructed from the subject position of precarious (art) workers."

Künstlerhaus Stuttgart, Arbeitsgruppen, 2020-2021
Concept paper
"The exhibition, Working Groups/Arbeitsgruppen,at the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart initiates a two-year long series of closed-door working groups to engage in a substantive reconsideration of the institutional governance arrangements, socioeconomic conditions, and labor relations that produce and distributeart. Comprised of local, regional, and international constituencies, these working groups will conceptualize and implement policies, contracts, and bylaws specific to the Künstlerhaus Stuttgart. In addition to directly addressing the Künstlerhaus Stuttgartas a responsive institutional case study, this working group series offers a model of collaborative governance while supporting experiential research into shared policy …"

Künstlersozialkasse (KSK)
"The Künstlersozialkasse (KSK) ... (Artists' Social Security Fund) ... ensures with the implementation of the Künstlersozialversicherungsgesetz (KSVG) (Artists' Social Security Act) that self-employed artists and publicists enjoy similar protection in the statutory social security system as employees. It is not a service provider itself, but coordinates the payment of contributions for its members to a health insurance of their choice and to the statutory pension and nursing care insurance. Self-employed artists and publicists are entitled to the entire statutory catalogue of benefits. However, they only have to pay half of the contributions due out of their own pockets. The KSK increases the amounts from a federal subsidy (20%) and from social security contributions from companies that use art and journalism (30%)." (automatic translation)

Precarious Workers Brigade, London
"We are a UK-based group of precarious workers in culture & education. We call out in solidarity with all those struggling to make a living in this climate of instability and enforced austerity. The PWB’s praxis springs from a shared commitment to developing research and actions that are practical, relevant and easily shared and applied. If putting an end to precarity is the social justice we seek, our political project involves developing tactics, strategies, formats, practices, dispositions, knowledges and tools for making this happen."

Working Artists And the Greater Economy
"Since its founding in 2008, W.A.G.E.’s work has developed in service of a single achievable goal—the regulated payment of artist fees in the nonprofit sector—but we emerge from a long tradition of artists organizing around the issue of remuneration for cultural work in the United States that dates back to the 1930s.We see the contemporary fight for non-wage compensation as part of a wider struggle by all gig workers who supply content without payment standards or an effective means to organize. In the context of contemporary art, where the unpaid labor of artists supports a more than $60 billion-dollar industry, W.A.G.E.’s mission is to establish sustainable economic relationships between artists and the institutions that contract our labor, and to introduce mechanisms for self-regulation into the art field that collectively bring about a more equitable distribution of its economy."

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Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart