The national and the regional governments encourage the promotion and support of artists and creators. Not only does Austria perceive itself as a cultural nation, many great artists, musicians and writers add to the worldwide fame. But there is a strong gap between a few highly-paid artists and a huge number of them who barely can make a living from their work. This was concluded in the 2008 study Zur sozialen Lage der Künstler und Künstlerinnen in Österreich (On the social situation of artists in Austria). It revealed a dramatic level of poverty and came to the conclusion that the already precarious income situation of artists had worsened in comparison to studies from earlier years. As the framework conditions of artists are not solely the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Culture, inter-ministerial working groups (IMAGs) have been founded in cooperation with experts from the former Federal Ministries of Labour, Family and Youth, Health, Foreign Affairs and Women’s Affairs and representatives of the scene, interest-groups (IGs), trade union and social-partnership representatives. These IMAGs have been working between 2009 and 2014 on the issues of social security for artistic, cultural and media workers, employment law, unemployment insurance law, social security, women in the arts, support for the arts, copyright and taxation measures and mobility in order to improve the social situation of artists in Austria.
The update study in 2018 (Soziale Lage der Kunstschaffenden und Kunst-/Kulturvermittler/innen in Österreich (Social situation of Artists and Cultural Educators/Mediators in Austria) showed nearly the same results: the situation of artists is still shaped and challenged by discontinuous and precarious working conditions, unstable future income perspectives and a lack of social security. The study assumes that there are 20 000 to 30 000 professionally active people in Austria in the fields of music, literature, visual arts, performing arts and film. 1 757 people took part in the study. Despite the high level of qualification of artists in Austria (58% with an academic degree), half of all respondents earn only EUR 5 000 a year from their artistic activities. 70% of the artists surveyed are also involved in art-related and/or non-artistic activities as an employee or freelancer. The activities are often irregular and difficult to plan. These complex employment relationships often lead to a lack of social security, such as gaps in unemployment insurance or pension insurance, and to an increased risk of poverty in old age. Further measures in the general social security area to specifically improve the situation of artists would be: improvements in financial resources (subsidies); fair employment conditions and minimum fees as a precondition for subsidies for institutions; and labour-market policy measures. Further options for action are the responsibility of various departments and ministries: security, employment law, unemployment insurance law, social security, women in the arts, support for the arts, copyright and taxation measures, mobility and – in general – transparency and reduction of bureaucracy. (see chapter 7.2.4)