Mapping cultural and creative sector working conditions in the EU

Welcome to the new platform on the status and working conditions of artists and cultural professionals!

The platform is a unique EU-wide knowledge resource solely focused on working conditions in the cultural and creative sector. Providing concise and factual information, it will allow for comparative mappings and issue-based analysis.

How did this come about?
The development of this platform is part of the EU Work Plan for Culture 2023-2026. The creation of this knowledge resource is based on the recommendation of the Open Method Coordination Group, which consisted of expert representatives from the 27 Member States of the EU.

What does it offer?
This will be the one-stop-shop resource to access concise and user-friendly information on key aspects of working conditions in the cultural sector in the 27 EU member states: regulatory status, social security, labour relations, learning and skills, and artistic freedom. The platform will in the future host analytical pieces and case studies on the topic, produced with the help of its key per-country material and external contributions.

What is its focus?
The platform will focus solely on the issues of working conditions for artists and cultural professionals. It does not aim to replicate existing platforms on cultural policies or knowledge repositories on social security and labour relations for all workers.

Why is it important?
It is high time we can:

  • access status-quo snapshots on various aspects of artists’ working conditions in all 27 countries of the EU
  • understand the EU-wide diversity of policies, regulatory frameworks, and sector initiatives
  • lead informed debates and take stock of policy and legislative changes
  • exchange, compare, and stimulate peer-to-peer learning among decision-makers

What's next?
At this moment, the platform is still young and is meant to grow and develop further. It is an agile and evolving resource that will be filled with more content in the near future. We look forward to engaging with diverse stakeholders to populate this resource. The knowledge hosted and generated by the platform will also feed a series of workshops and meetings we will organise in the future.


Select up to 3 countries to view their specific policies.

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Status and social security

Labour relations

Learning and skills

Artistic freedom

Culture in the EUs National Recovery and Resilience Plans

This publication, developed by Culture Action Europe and its membership, offers an overview of the place of culture in the National Recovery and Resilience Plans (NRRPs) of the Member States of the European Union.

Culture Action Europe, 2021

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European cultural and creative cities in COVID-19 times: Jobs at risk and the policy response

The publication highlights COVID-19's profound impact on European culture, risking seven million jobs. Despite closures, cities innovate, governments enact recovery policies, advocating for proximity tourism and new cultural services to boost societal well-being.

European Commission, 2020

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The status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals

The European Commission and stakeholders released a study addressing artists' working conditions, urging Member States to enhance them. Recommendations include sharing best practices and informing on available policies for the CCS.

European Expert Network on Culture and Audiovisual, 2020

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Cross-border Employment in the Live Performance Sector

In order to support the work of social partners in general, and more particularly in sectors characterised by a high degree of cross-border mobility, this report explores the often neglected issue of the social security and employment status of ‘highly mobile workers’.

PEARLE – Live Performance Europe, 2021

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The Future of Work in the Arts and Entertainment Sector

This paper highlights the trends steering major sectoral changes and analyses how these transformations may impact the future of work in the arts and
entertainment sector.

International Labour Organisation, 2021

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‘A crisis of sustainable careers?

Published between January and September 2022, "A Crisis of Sustainable Careers?"report examines precarious working conditions in cultural and creative sectors. It evaluates the role of public agencies and offers recommendations for improvement.

IFACCA (International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies), 2022

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The Culture Fix: Creative People, Places and Industries

The report addresses issues in cultural and creative sectors in terms of employment, business development, cultural participation and funding in the CCS, considering their economic impact and COVID-19's effects. It offers recommendations for leveraging these sectors in national and local recovery strategies.

OECD, 2021

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Status and working conditions for artists, cultural and creative professionals

The 'Status & Working Conditions for Artists, Cultural and Creative Professionals' Brainstorming Report emerged from a meeting convened by Voices of Culture in April 2021. It amplifies the cultural sector's voice to EU policymakers and enhances advocacy capacity through collaborative dialogue.

Voices of Culture, 2021

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Council conclusions on the EU Work Plan for Culture 2019-22

The Council of the European Union agrees on a Work Plan for Culture (2019-2022), recognizing culture's role in social cohesion, economic growth, and international relations. It invites a mid-term evaluation by June 2022.

Council of the European Union, 2018

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Recovery and Resilience Scoreboard: Thematic analysis – Culture and creative industries

This paper is part of a series of thematic analyses by the European Commission, showcasing the Recovery and Resilience Facility's impact on European recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.


European Commission, 2022

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The Status of Artists in Europe

The report outlines national initiatives in Europe to enhance authors' and performing artists' socioeconomic status, proposing future EU-wide actions based on study findings.

European Parliament, 2006

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Council conclusions on the recovery, resilience and sustainability of the cultural and creative sectors

The Council of the EU emphasizes the importance of supporting the CCS during and after the pandemic, acknowledging challenges and calling for tailored measures and international cooperation.

Council of the European Union, 2021

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Council conclusions on the Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022

The EU Council highlights culture's role in cohesion and competitiveness, citing past initiatives and endorsing a Work Plan for Culture 2019-2022.

Council of the European Union, 2018

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Council Resolution on the EU Work Plan for Culture 2023–2026

The EU Council prioritizes cultural empowerment, participation, environmental awareness, and international collaboration in its 2023-2026 work plan, aiming for strategic integration across policies and initiatives.

Council of the European Union, 2022

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European Parliament resolution on the cultural recovery of Europe

The European Parliament emphasizes the cultural sector's economic significance and its resilience during crises, urging increased support, funding, and integration into recovery plans.

European Parliament, 2020

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The situation of artists and the cultural recovery in the EU

The European Parliament's resolution calls for recognizing culture's value and supporting artists, urging reopening of cultural spaces, financial aid, and addressing digital challenges. It emphasizes fair remuneration, gender equality, and access to training.

European Parliament, 2021

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Cultural and creative sectors in post-COVID-19 Europe – Crisis effects and policy recommendations

This study analyses the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the CCS, as well as the policy responses that are formulated to support the sectors. Based on the analysis, policy recommendations are formulated to further improve the resilience of the CCS in Europe in the medium and longer term.

European Parliament, 2021

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Re|shaping policies for creativity: addressing culture as a global public good

The publication offers insightful new data that shed light on emerging trends at a global level, as well as putting forward policy recommendations to foster creative ecosystems that contribute to a sustainable world by 2030 and beyond.

Unesco, 2022

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Challenges and opportunities for decent work in the culture and media sectors

The study examines employment in culture and media in 16 countries, from four regions, and covering the very diverse world of the media and culture. This encompasses: musicians, actors, dancers, journalists, screenwriters, technicians and creators of audio-visual and live performances, and visual artists.

Gruber, M -International Labour Organization, 2019

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Recommendation concerning the status of the artist

UNESCO's report on artists' status highlights global efforts but notes challenges like censorship. It urges comprehensive laws, better data, and support for diverse artists' access and social security.

Unesco, 1980

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Culture & working conditions for artists

This study uncovers persisting and emerging challenges artists and cultural professionals face and examines how countries around the world are addressing these issues through policymaking. The study is based on a quadrennial global survey conducted in 2018 on the impact of the 1980 Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist.

Unesco, 2019

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MEPs call for common minimum social standards for artists and cultural workers

The Culture and Education Committee urged the Commission to introduce a "European Status of the Artist," ensuring consistent working conditions and standards across EU nations, while respecting member states' autonomy in labor and cultural policies.

European Parliament

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Social Protection in the CCS - Country Practices and Innovations

The paper examines international policy and legal approaches to broaden social security in the arts and culture sector. It explores strategies to accommodate the sector's unique employment dynamics, including fluctuating income and geographic mobility, with a focus on COVID-19 responses.

ILO (International Labour Organisation)

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Extending social protection to the cultural and creative sector

The paper addresses social protection challenges for cultural workers, suggesting legal enhancements, flexible criteria, and streamlined processes, while emphasizing coordination, information sharing, and dialogue for better coverage. 

ILO (International Labour Organisation)

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Ultimate cookbook for cultural managers - social security in an international context

This hands-on guide offers clarity on social security concerns for international workers in the performing arts sector. It addresses questions regarding employment status, EU regulations, posting, coverage, and obligations for both employees and freelancers, providing essential guidance for compliance.

PEARLE – Live Performance Europe

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Methodological guide for the participatory development of a law on the status of the artist

The guide outlines four steps for creating an artist status legal framework with broad stakeholder input, crucial for addressing industry-wide issues and aligning with UNESCO and ILO standards.


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Commission Guidelines: Competition Law for Solo Self-Employed Working Conditions

EU competition law guidelines outline principles for collective agreements on solo self-employed working conditions, assessing their impact on individual undertakings.

European Commission

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Employment in the cultural and creative sectors

This document highlights the growing economic importance of culture and art globally, with a focus on the EU. It discusses the challenges faced by professionals in this sector, such as short-term contracts and complex revenue structures.

European Parliament

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Towards gender equality in the cultural and creative sectors, Publications Office of the European Union

This report focuses on the role that culture plays in promoting gender equality and, more importnatly how to achieve gender equality within the CCS.

European Union

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Culture statistics – cultural employment

The article offers insights into cultural employment trends and its proportion of total employment. It also looks at the employment characteristics of creative and performing artists, authors, journalists and linguists.


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Handbook on Trade Union Organising in the Media, Arts and Entertainment Sector

This handbook offers an in-depth focus on the challenge of organising atypical workers in the sector, drawing on the experience of the different participating trade unions.

FIA - International Federation of Actors

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FIA Manual on Combatting Sexual Harassment

This publication is intended to be a practical tool for advocacy and a useful model for any union in the sector wishing to develop its own strategy to fight sexual harassment at national level.

FIA - International Federation of Actors

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Recommended Health and Safety Guidelines for the Live Performance Sector

The FIA Secretariat's "Act Safe" guidelines, initially published in 2007 for film, TV, and live shows, were updated in 2021 to include new sections on stress, harassment, intimacy scenes, and mental health.

FIA - International Federation of Actors

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#MeToo in the Arts: From call-outs to structural change

Research-informed recommendations for network organisations on combating sexual harassment and power abuse in the European cultural sectror.


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WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? - Ideas for Reaching Fair Working Conditions in the Arts

IETM aims to lead the fair and green transition in performing arts, emphasizing fair pay and working conditions. Authors challenge beliefs hindering sector change, advocating for reevaluation of labor, time, and boundaries.

IETM - International network for contemporary performing arts

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Resolution concerning statistics on work relationships

The 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians revises standards for statistical measurement of work relationships, aiming to enhance comparability and support sustainable development goals.

International Labour Office

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Conceptual Framework for Statistics on Work Relationships

The 20th International Conference of Labour Statisticians adopted new standards for statistics on work relationships, including revised classifications and variables to enhance measurement and comparability, supporting labor market analysis and policy development.

International Labour Office

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Employment Review 2019: the Future of Work

The 2019 OECD Employment Outlook examines shifts in job stability, underemployment, and well-paid jobs, proposing policy responses to labor market transformations driven by technology, globalization, and demographic shifts.


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Time to Act: How lack of knowledge in the cultural sector creates barriers for disabled artists and audiences

On the Move leads a study on disabled artists' inclusion in the performing arts across 40 EU Creative Europe countries.

On The Move

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Remuneration of authors and performers for the use of their works and the fixations of their performances

This study examines remuneration for authors and performers in music and audio-visual sectors, comparing national systems, exploring harmonization needs, and offering policy recommendations.

Europe Economics, Guibault, L, Salamanca, O & van Gompel, S

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The Future of Work in the Media, Arts & Entertainment Sector

Recommendations propose actions at sectoral, national, and European levels to address atypical work in Media, Arts, and Entertainment, emphasizing regulatory gaps and advocating for fairer labor practices.

Euro FIA, EFJ, FIM & UNI Europa - Uni Global Union

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Creative FLIP Final Report, Work Package 2: Learning

The Creative FLIP report examines ESCO's suitability and challenges in collecting data for the cultural and creative sectors.

3s Unternehmensberatung, Creative FLIP

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Creative Pact for Skills (C-P4S) Manifesto

The Creative Pact for Skills (C-P4S) outlines a roadmap for skills transformation in the CCIs, emphasizing collaboration, lifelong learning, and innovation.

Creative Pact for Skills (C-P4S)

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Creative workforce: understanding skills & training needs in the CCIs; inequalities and exclusion report

The findings offer insight into the lives and careers of CCWs, revealing both enabling capabilities and barriers to inclusivity, fostering dialogue on policy interventions.


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Fostering knowledge valorisation through the arts and cultural institutions

This European Commission's study explores how arts and cultural institutions contribute to knowledge valorisation and suggests recommendations to enhance their role.

European Commission

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Cultural and creative jobs and skills: who, what, where, and why it matters

The 'Culture Fix' report emphasizes the economic and social importance of cultural and creative sectors, suggesting strategies for leveraging their potential in post-COVID recovery.


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Skills for the creative industries: report of the UNESCO-UNEVOC virtual conference

UNESCO-UNEVO hosted an online forum on creativity and creative industries, exploring skills needs, vocational pathways, and the role of TVET in supporting the sector's growth.


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Skills, need, and gaps in the CCSI

The Creative FLIP report aims  to evaluate ESCO's suitability for CCSI skills profiles and suggest training paths and industry-specific solutions.

Creative FLIP

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Arts Justice Rights Public Toolkit 2016

The toolkit, developed by ARJ and Culture Action Europe, aims to empower artists and cultural workers to protect artistic freedom. 

Culture Action Europe

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Handbook on European non-discrimination law – 2018 edition

This handbook examines European non-discrimination law stemming from these two sources as complementary systems, drawing on them interchangeably to the extent that they overlap, while highlighting differences where these exist.

FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights)

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Protecting civic space in the EU

The report highlights challenges faced by civil society organizations in promoting fundamental rights across the EU, based on research and consultations conducted in 2020.

FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights)

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Exploring the connections between arts and human rights - Meeting report

The Vienna meeting in May 2017 convened experts from various EU Member States, spanning academia, arts, and civil society, discussing the intersection of artistic practice and human rights. This report encapsulates their discussions and offers recommendations.

FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights)

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LGBTI freedom of artistic expression

The report highlights 149 acts of artistic violations against LGBTI persons and art documented by Freemuse between January 2018 and June 2020.


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The new European agenda on freedom of artistic expression

The report is an analysis of the human right to freedom of artistic expression based on monitoring of legal and policy development and individual cases of violations of artistic freedom in Europe over the past two years (January 2018 to October 2019).


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The State of Artistic Freedom 2022

The Freemuse State of Artistic Freedom Report 2022 highlights attacks on artists in 2021 through statistics and infographics, sourced from various media and human rights monitors.


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9th World Summit on Arts and Culture Safeguarding Artistic Freedom – Discussion paper

This Discussion Paper initiates a global exploration of artistic freedom, offering insights from diverse perspectives, including artists, activists, educators, and policymakers.

IFACCA (International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies)

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Art and the Law – A guide to the legal framework impacting on artistic freedom of expression

This report addresses the complexities of laws protecting artistic expression, aiming to clarify legal ambiguities and combat unnecessary censorship in the arts.


Index on Censorship

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Annual reports: Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights’

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights

OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)

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Online harassment field manual

Online abuse poses an urgent and growing threat to free expression, equity, and inclusion. This Field Manual offers concrete strategies for how to defend yourself and others. 

Pen America

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Safe + Secure Handbook

The Safe+Secure Handbook serves as a guide for film teams to navigate ethical and legal risks, ensuring safety for contributors and reducing liability.

Safe + Secure

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Freedom & creativity: defending art, defending diversity

This special edition extends recommendations from the 2018 Global Report, offering insights into legal protection of artistic freedom and social and economic rights for artists worldwide.


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Defending creative voices: artists in emergencies, learning from the safety of journalists

The report advocates for recognizing and addressing the vulnerability of artists during crises, proposing both immediate and long-term measures for their protection, emphasizing cooperation akin to that for protecting journalists.


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Free to Create: Artistic Freedom in Europe

The report compiles insights from 20 artists across Europe, identifying challenges to artistic freedom, from overt attacks to subtle repression, and offers recommendations for protection and advocacy.

Council of Europe

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The OMC report reveals the EU-wide state of play of working conditions in the cultural sector.

The report published in July by the Open Method of Coordination group of EU Member States' experts sheds light to the status and working conditions of artists and cultural and creative professionals.

November 11, 2023


The Creatives Unite platform features stories and interviews with artists, culture, and creative professionals from various countries in the EU. The platform highlights the shared challenges they face and how mobility, cooperation, and integration can strengthen cultural, artistic, and creative production.

Status of the Artist: six key points of the EU snapshot

The Open Method Coordination (OMC) working group comprised representatives from all 27 EU Member States, encompassing a mix of experts in the domains of culture and social affairs. As part of the process, experts were asked to complete a survey on different aspects of working conditions in CCSs in their respective country 1 . Here are a few key points we can glean from analyzing the survey results.

1. There is some form of status for artists in most EU countries

In the majority of EU Member States, there is a policy framework or legal structure that defines the status of artists, which can pertain to areas such as social security, taxation, employment, funding, official recognition, and more. Many of these systems primarily focus on social security or taxation. Specifically, 18 countries have established dedicated social security provisions for artists through specific laws or legal frameworks, and 13 countries have implemented special tax regimes for artistic income.

2. Different art sectors and professionals have relatively equal access to the 'artist status', with non-artist workers being the least covered.

While there may be an imbalance of support for various creative sub-sectors in some countries, in the overall EU-wide context, writers, composers, choreographers, as well as performing, visual, and audiovisual artists have relatively equal access to most existing status types. Performing artists and professionals in the audiovisual sectors benefit the most from social security systems, while the status related to taxation primarily covers visual artists, writers, and composers. Non-artist professionals, such as technicians, are the least covered by the various existing status frameworks.

Status of the artist: Access By Sector and Profession

  • Writers, Composers, Choriographers (40)
  • Performing Artists (38)
  • Audio Visual Artists (38)
  • Visual Artists (37)
  • None-Artist Professionals (eg. Technicians) (22)
  • Other ( )

1 The survey was not mandatory, so not all questions were answered by all 27 experts.

Image 1: 25 respondents had the option to select one or multiple categories of professionals who have access to one or several different status types in their country (six types in total). There were a total of 178 options selected (excluding 'not applicable' responses). Category ‘Writers, composers, and choreographers' was chosen 40 times, while 'audiovisual artists' and 'performing artists' each received 38 selections, and ‘visual artists’ was selected 37 times. Non-artist professionals were mentioned 22 times.

3. Proof of activity and income are the most frequently applied criteria; diploma in the arts is the least applied

The majority of status-related schemes center on individuals' actual activity within the sector, including its duration or publicly available outputs, and place less emphasis on ranking elements related to recognition, such as received prizes and awards, or education.

Proof of income generated from artistic activities, along with the corresponding tax payments, is also an important eligibility criterion for many programs. It is not only about having earned a required minimum, but in some cases, it is also about not having earned enough - often with a requirement to demonstrate that the reasons for this were beyond one's control.

Artistic quality is not a major criterion in the EU-wide snapshot, even though it is still considered in many programmes. A diploma in the arts is the least frequently considered factor. Only a few 'status of the artist' schemes have special strands or conditions for career entrants.

Status of the artist:Access Criteria

  • Proof of artistic activities (34)
  • Proof of income (28)
  • membership in an association (18)
  • Artistic quality (17)
  • Education (9)
  • Other (10)

Image 2: 25 respondents had the option to select one or multiple access criteria applied to six different status types. A total of 116 selections were made (excluding 'not applicable' and 'other'). 'Proof of artistic activity' was selected 34 times, 'proof of income' received 28 selections, while 'membership in a professional association' and 'artistic quality' were chosen 18 and 17 times, respectively. 'Proof of relevant education' was mentioned 9 times.

4. Government agencies are the most involved in granting artists' status

In the majority of countries, a blended decision-making system is in place, which involves a mixed body or the assessment of applications in steps by various stakeholders. Government agencies are the most involved in granting artists' status, particularly concerning social security and taxation frameworks. Peer commissions are primarily involved in assessing applications for grants and subsidies, although in some countries, they also participate in granting access to social security systems. In very few cases, decisions are made by independent non-governmental bodies.

Decision - Making

  • Government and its Agencies (28)
  • Peer Commissions (19)
  • Independent Bodies (4)
  • Other (16)

Image 3: 25 respondents had the option to select one or multiple stakeholders granting access to six different status types. A total of 67 selections were made (excluding 'not applicable'). 'A commission of professionals’ was selected 19 times, 'an administrative department' received 28 selections, while 'independent body' and 'other' were chosen 4 and 16 times, respectively.

5. Having an official register dedicated to artists and creative professionals is not very common, but some changes are underway

Out of the 25 respondents, 18 said their country does not have a register of artists or creative professionals; however, five countries are in the process of developing one. The majority of existing registers are used for granting various types of financial support, and only a few are also dedicated to research purposes. In a number of countries, artists and cultural professionals are registered as part of a nation-wide statistical system, while in many states, professional associations develop and manage lists of their members.

6. Social security frameworks specific to artists mostly cover unemployment and pension-related benefits

Social security frameworks for artists and cultural professionals offer a diverse range of benefits, with unemployment insurance and various pension provisions being the most commonly offered across all frameworks in place in the EU member states. This is often in recognition of the irregular nature of artists’ work and income. Work accident insurance is the least covered by existing frameworks for artists.

Social security contributions are obligatory for the majority of frameworks, and they are primarily paid by artists themselves. In about a third of the cases, contributions are covered by the state, and a few programmes apply a mixed system, in which the government supplements artists’ payments.

Social security types

  • Unemployment (10)
  • Health (9)
  • Basic Pension (9)
  • Disability (8)
  • Sickness (7)
  • Before-pension supplement (7)
  • Maternity/Paternity (6)
  • Training/Carrer transition (6)
  • Supplementary pension (6)
  • Work accident (5)

Image 4: 25 respondents had the option to select one or multiple social security benefits / types that are available in their country as part of a specific system for artists. A total of 74 selections were made (excluding 'other').

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