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Research: fair pay in arts sector will cost an extra 180 million by 2025

The research is there, and the figures are not uplifting. In the arts sector, underpaying especially self-employed workers and not honouring overtime is standing policy. If this is to be made up from now on, with the existing budget, small institutions and festivals in particular will fall over immediately. The study on this was presented yesterday to outgoing State Secretary for Culture Uslu.

Principal Kunsten '92 welcomes the study, stating that at least 34 million extra is needed to address the initial need, 5 million more than the 29 million promised by the current state secretary. "Fair Pay is well on its way. With this research, which provides insight into the underpayment of hourly pay and hours, an important step has been taken in keeping the cultural and creative sector resilient. However, the big leap is yet to come, with more research, tools and money needed to make Fair Pay a reality everywhere."

The trade association, which thus mainly includes employers, continued: "Kunsten '92 sees the amount mentioned in the survey as a reference amount. It is also clear that this amount is not comprehensive for the entire cultural and creative sector."

34 million is too little

The demand for more research should then be a response to the dramatic figures, which are bad for the lobby. The 34 million that Kunsten '92, as a trade association, is now betting on is a drop in the ocean. It only works for next year. And then only for the subsidy from the State. The municipalities still need an amount of around 70 million for the first year. Again, that's nothing compared to what's in the dreaded Ravine year 2025 will be needed. In that year, when municipal coffers are empty everywhere, a multiple of that amount may well be needed. Think of the number '6'.

Indeed, the study states: "Given the development of gross wages (including employers' social charges) expected by the Central Planning Bureau, on top of the additional costs of €29.2 mln, an additional amount of €149.0 mln is needed for indexation in order to realise Fair Pay in 2025. The amount consists of €5.4 mln for the indexation of the additional costs and €143.6 for the indexation of current staff costs."

A mere 180 million shortfall, and that on the eve of elections that promise a majority for parties that would prefer less to no more subsidy for the arts. Just following their own demand for fair payment, keeping the total subsidy amount of 900 million the same would mean almost a quarter less could be produced.

Baldrige passed on to staff

There is an interesting similarity between the amount with which the first right-wing Rutte cabinet launched the attack on the arts (200 million) and the current debt that cultural institutions have accumulated with their staff. Subsidies in the years after 2012 have mainly focused on maintaining the offer, against the lesser subsidy. The performing arts fund continued to provide the reduced subsidy based on the number of performances sold, regardless of how many productions a company made before that. In this way, the costs were passed on to the weakest shoulders: those of people on the shop floor, especially in small institutions, most of which are self-employed.

This action by the subsidising institutions has thus delayed execution. Indeed, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is also participating in the underpayment, it appears. This is bad news at a time when the cultural sector has to pull out all the stops in the face of a House that seems to have little heart for art. People will say that the sector should then fend for itself. A drastic reduction in supply is unavoidable. This will lead to a long-term barrenness, because young, small institutions, where new art is often developed, are particularly affected. Cabinet Rutte 1, in which the PVV played a prominent role, will then get its way after 13 years.

So now it already happens that payment for often young professional musicians at a classical NPO programme has led to cancellation of that programme. Until now, they performed for free. During a meeting in TivoliVredenburg responded Peter Kwint of the SP on Wednesday 15 November with clarity on the situation that had arisen: "Above all, it is also a signal that the industry has accepted a perverse revenue model for far too long."

Read the whole study here

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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