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France/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.9 Employment policies for the cultural sector

Paralleling the emergence of the Welfare State, public authorities tried to improve the social status of artists and creators, in order to allow them to work in the best conditions: creation of the Caisse nationale des lettres in 1946 (nowadays the National Centre of Books and Literature), the Copyright Law of 1957, and social security for artists-authors in 1964. A specific social security regime for temporary and occasional workers (intermittence) was set up in 1936 for the technicians of the film industry and from 1969, performing artists and interpreters were also covered, and then the technicians of the performing arts. With this regime, named "intermittence du spectacle", performing artists and technicians benefit from the presumption that they are salaried: consequently, they have access, despite discontinuity in their employment to various measures for social security coverage (health insurance, unemployment benefit, insurance for incapacity and death, retirement pensions, housing aid, etc.) and professional training.

More widely, the notion of cultural employment covers a broad field: salaried and non-salaried employment, commercial and non-commercial sectors as well as different sectors of the Ministry of Culture and Communication e.g. books and publishing, visual arts, cinema and audiovisual arts, performing arts, architecture and cultural heritage: creation, production, distribution and circulation, broadcasting and transmission, marketing, mediation, documentation, administration. One must also distinguish between cultural professions (which do not only exist in the cultural sector) and salaried employees of the cultural sector (which do not all occupy a cultural profession).

In 2013, in mainland France, 579 500 persons held a "cultural profession" as their main occupation, representing 2% of the working population: 1/3 of these occupations are in the visual arts and arts crafts (métiers d'art), about 30% in broadcasting and performing arts, and 15% in literature and publishing occupations.

As regards the salaried employees of the cultural sector in 2013, they were 645 400 in 2009. Compared with the other salaried employees in France (2,5 % of working population). They have specific features: more flexible jobs, more short-term contracts, more scattered remunerations. More employers are of a modest size and are based in Paris region. The salaried-employees are younger and more often male.

For about ten years now, although the Ministry of Culture it is not involved in the joint management of the Unemployment Provision Funds, the Ministry has had to face the question of the preservation of the regime of intermittence du spectacle. A conflict began in 2003 when annexes 8 and 10 of the Convention de l’assurance chômage (Unemployment Provision Convention) that organises this regime, had to be revised. During the summer of 2003, important strikes provoked the cancellation of major festivals: Montpellier, Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, and La Rochelle (Francofolies). In 2012, a report from the Cour des comptes (Court of Audit) estimates the cost of the regime to reach one billion EUR. However in 2013 a parliamentary commission estimated the cost at 320 million EUR, considering the benefits that the temporary workers could claim if they were affiliated to the general system of unemployment-insurance. In 2014-2016, the launch of a new round of negotiation between social partners about the Unemployment Provision Convention disrupted several summer festivals, theatres were occupied. The Prime Minister appointed a conciliation board to redefine the statute of intermittence. In 2016 a study by DEPS shows that performing arts are, after cinema and broadcasting, the second cultural sector in terms of economic weight. The social partners came to an agreement in 2016, which maintains the regime while introducing modifications (increasing financing from employers, for instance).

This problem is not limited to the reform of the intermittence regime. It conveys broader issues about the development of cultural employment, and its reinforcement, within the framework of a knowledge economy, of a "cognitive-cultural" capitalism, in which creativity is an asset, not to say a driving force. We find such issues within the Europe 2020 Strategy "for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth” and in 2011, the Council of the European Union indicates the contribution of culture to the implementation of the strategy (réf. 2011/C 175/01,

In France, the increase in the number of employed people in the performing arts sector was ten times higher than that of the whole of the working population between 1982 and 1990, and from 1990 to 2010 the number of artists and technicians in the audiovisual and performing arts sectors doubled, even though the upturn in the workforce coincided with a long-term downward trend for activity and incomes (cf. Marie Gouyon, Frédérique Patureau, "Employment Trends in the Entertainment Industry", Culture-Chiffres n° 2014-2). Pierre-Michel Menger, professor at Collège de France, measured that between 1986 and 2007, the volume of working hours multiplied by 2.7, but meanwhile the number of temporary workers (intermittents) multiplied by 3.7 and the number of contracts by 12. This trend indicates an unbalanced growth of the labour market for temporary workers. (source: Communication du groupe de travail sur le régime de l'intermittence dans le secteur culturel, commission de la Culture et commission des Affaires sociales du Sénat, 3 July 2013).

In September 2016, the Government set up a national fund to support durable employment in performing arts (Fonpeps: Fonds national pour l’emploi pérenne dans le spectacle) and endowed it with 90 million euros for a full year. The fund is managed by the Ministry of Culture and addresses the performing arts and recorded music enterprises and their personnel. The fund supports concrete measures to stabilise and reinforce durable employment in the sectors, like for instance: creation of permanent contracts, extension of fixed-term contracts, aids to childcare, aids to first occupational integration for the youth.

Besides, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Culture and Communication endeavours to control, in the European context and that of the world market, author's rights within the framework of the Conseil supérieur de la propriété littéraire et artistique (High Council on Literary and Artistic Property). These issues were at the heart of the recent discussions on the implementation of the HADOPI (High Authority for Transmission of Creative Works and Copyright Protection on the Internet, see chapter 5.1.7), and on the legal conflicts between Google and the National Union of Publishers, or the press (see chapter 4.2.3).

Chapter published: 18-05-2017

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