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Arts and culture – changing organisations?

The art and culture sector is often described as a rapidly growing part of the international labour markets, and it is also closely associated with new tech-nology and the digital revolution. On the other hand, the art and culture sector is also characterised by atypical employment, insecure income and an increasing pressure on established schemes for protection of intellectual property and remuneration for the use of artworks. The main topic of this report is art and culture as a unionisation area, i.e. the organisations that represent the interest of those who work in the art and culture sector and the challenges that these organisations are facing. We are concerned with whether these organisations are experiencing any changes among the members’ forms of affiliation, for example as self-employed, the challenges they encounter when it comes to protecting the wages and incomes of their members, whether digitalisation gives rise to new challenges regarding dissemination of and remuneration for art, and how they assist their members in upholding their rights.

The study is based on interviews with 13 artists’ organisations. In addition, we have reviewed information available online, annual reports, various types of framework agreements etc.

Wages and income are high on the agenda for most of the artists’ organi-sations, despite the fact that only a minority of them are party to collective agreements. A key task is to ensure the best possible conditions for short-term employees, freelancers and other contractors. Such groups form the majority in most of the organisations, and we find various measures introduced by the organisations intended to help ensure that they are paid for their work. The measures vary from binding agreements with clients to recommended rates and standard contract templates prepared by the organisations. The organisations also teach their members what needs to be included in the price of a commissioned piece and assist them when problems occur in the relationship with their clients.

Many organisations report that clients now more frequently insist that artists should invoice for their work as self-employed individuals. The organisations note that this is an unfortunate trend for their members, and they spend time on advising on the choice of contract type.

The organisations are actively seeking to ensure favourable framework conditions for art and artists, including funding for stipends and projects. This also involves ensuring the artist’s rights in an era when digitalisation and new types of platforms are challenging traditional schemes for use and remuneration.

The art and culture sector is in principle highly organized. Artists have a number of organisations, most of which are fairly small. The majority of the unions are independent, while some are also affiliated with the Norwegian Trade Union Confederation (LO). In the conclusion to our report we discuss the opportunities for a more committed collaboration between the unions, and whether more unions would be interested in joining LO. Already today, various organisations collaborate under the auspices of the Kunstnernettverket network as well as in a number of other arenas. Developments in the years to come indicate that various groups of artists will come to share a number of challenges, for example when it comes to the members’ income, social rights and the possibility of maintaining favourable conditions with regard to intellectual property rights and remuneration. This would call for closer collaboration. On the other hand, the unaffiliated artists’ organisations vary greatly in their views on possible future membership of LO.

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