4.2.9 Employment policies for the cultural sector
Proactive policies directly or indirectly aimed at supporting the creation of new jobs in the cultural sector developed in Italy during the 1970s and the 1980s, as well as the positive results achieved in stimulating cultural supply and demand in the 1990s, had resulted in a strong boost to cultural employment in our country in the last decades of the past century. However, the lack of genuinely innovative cultural policy measures in recent times to stimulate employment in the cultural field – and, more in particular, the decrease in public cultural expenditure in the first decade of this century – may be responsible for the slowing down of this once very dynamic trend.
Such stagnation in cultural employment has been stated by a study on unpublished ISTAT data 2004-2006 (Bodo, Cabasino, Pintaldi, Spada, 2009), carried out by the Associazione per l'Economia della Cultura (AEC), and further confirmed by an updating of this study in 2010 (see "Economia della cultura" n.4/2011). The main aim of these studies was to identify more closely the volume and trends of cultural employment in Italy – and its variables – first between 2004 and 2006, and then between 2006 and 2010, by applying the methodology worked out by the Eurostat Working Group on Cultural Statistics to the newly available (since 2004) 4 digit ISTAT data from our national Labour Force Survey.
In 2010, overall cultural employment in Italy – concerning, according to Eurostat definition, "the whole of the employed in a cultural occupation (ISCO), or in an economic unity of the cultural domain (NACE)" – amounted to 585 000 active persons, that is 2.5% of the total active employed population. However (see Figure 2) 137 000 units were employed both in what is defined by Eurostat as the cultural domain (heritage, the arts and cultural industries) and in cultural occupations (artistic, technical and operational). In fact, out of the 336 000 employed in the cultural domain, the other 199 000 were employed in the cultural domain with no cultural occupation, but rather with managerial and administrative roles. Even more noteworthy, 249 000 (nearly two thirds) of the 386 000 employed in cultural occupations have been working outside the cultural domain (designers in the fashion or car industry, film directors in advertising spots, etc.). These data provide further evidence of the multifaceted activities of the employed in the cultural sector, mostly engaged in jobs often far removed from the arts.
Figure 2: Overall cultural employment: employed in cultural occupations + employed in the cultural domain, 2010
Source: AEC elaborations on Istat data from the Labour Force Survey.
Surprisingly enough, the updated study (from which both figures are drawn), revealed that the overall amount of cultural employment was exactly the same – 585 000 – for 2006 and 2010, with only minimal changes in the above described features and combinations. This overall stagnation in the trend of cultural employment over the quinquennium, however, is the result of quite substantial ups and downs (see Figure 3), with an increase of 10% in the number of working units between 2005 and 2008 (when the highest peak of 635 000 employed was reached), followed by a decrease of 8% between 2008 and 2010, as a self-evident consequence of the economic and financial crisis.
Figure 3 shows quite similar trends for cultural employment and for the total employed population in our country in the 2000s, unlike what happened in the previous decades, when cultural employment was far more dynamic.
The faster pace of cultural employment in comparison with general employment in the years characterised by Italy's – if modest – economic growth, on the one hand, followed by a higher decrease in the years of economic downturn starting with 2008, on the other, could be interpreted as evidence that cultural employment is more overexposed to cyclical economic fluctuations compared with other types of employment.
Figure 3: Trend in cultural employment and total employment, 2005-2010
Source: AEC elaborations on Istat data.
As for the determinants of trends in cultural employment, the more or less abundant availability of financial resources appears to be one of the most relevant. The declining trend in state support for culture and the arts and in private funding for culture due to the financial crisis (see chapter 6.2.3 and chapter 6.3) actually seems to closely reverberate in the stagnation of cultural employment over the considered lapse of time.
Focusing on employment in the cultural domain, diverging trends among the domains should also be singled out, with a slightly positive trend for heritage, stagnation for the performing arts, and a higher decrease for employment in the publishing industry, actually causing social unrest, as several newspapers, severely hit by cuts both in state subsidies (see chapter 4.2.3 and chapter 5.3.7) and in advertising revenue, are about to close down.
Finally, the socio-demographic variables in cultural employment with respect to the total employed population are the traditional ones, referring to a much higher educational level and a more autonomous occupational status (56% of self-employed in 2010). Worth noting is the low incidence of cultural employment in our socially and economically deprived, but culturally rich "Mezzogiorno"(Southern Italy): only 21%, against 28% in the country as a whole. Changes in the demographic variable between 2004 and 2010 only refer to the fall of the employment rate of young people aged between 15 and 29 years: from 19% to 15%. No good news for a country like ours, so richly endowed in artistic heritage and talents, but not able to invest in the younger generations to build up a "new creative class" (Richard Florida, 2002) able to foster an economic revival based on the social and economic exploitation of our heritage, as well as on the production of immaterial goods and services.