Economic and social situation of artists
As early as 1975, the federal government presented a report on the social situation of artists in Germany (based on the Authors’ Report and the Artists’ Inquiry). In response, the legislature affirmed that artists and publicists were in particular need of protection and passed the Artists’ Social Insurance Act. Since 1981, this social insurance for artists has become a central instrument for supporting the social situation of artists and publicists by creating access to statutory health, long-term care and pension insurance.
The Künstlersozialkasse (KSK) (https://www.kuenstlersozialkasse.de/) is responsible for the insurance assessment. Self-employed artists and publicists pay half of the insurance contributions. The other half of the contributions is paid by the “users” of the artistic performance in the form of the flat-rate artists’ social security contribution on all royalty payments to a self-employed artists or publicists (30 per cent) and the federal government via a subsidy (20 per cent). The prerequisite for compulsory insurance is that an artistic or journalistic activity is carried out on a gainful basis and not only temporarily. In 2020, 192,500 artists and publicists were insured with the KSK. (See also 4.1.3)
The social situation of artists has been increasingly discussed in recent years. Various studies have been published, for example “Arbeitsmarkt Kultur. Zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage in den Kulturberufen” (Deutscher Kulturrat 2013 https://www.kulturrat.de/wp- content/uploads/2016/04/studie-arbeitsmarkt- kultur-2013.pdf), on the “Economic and Social Situation of Visual Artists” (BBK 2016) or “Frauen und Männer im Kulturmarkt – Bericht zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage” (Deutscher Kulturrat 2020 https://www.kulturrat.de/wp- content/uploads/2020/10/Frauen-und-Maenner-im-Kulturmarkt.pdf). The “Betroffenheit der Kultur- und Kreiativwirtschaft von der Coronapandemie” (how the cultural and creative industries are affected by the corona pandemic) based on a scenario analysis were published in the report of the same name, published by the Initiative Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft der Bundesregierung and the Kompetenzzentrum Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft des Bundes in January 2022.
In 2013, the international movement “Art but fair” was launched with the aim of achieving fair working conditions and appropriate fees in the performing arts and music. The organisation consists of three mutually coordinated non-profit associations in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The movement aims to raise awareness of the issue, including through the publication of studies such as “Fair working conditions in the performing arts and music?” (2016: https://artbutfair.org/wp- content/uploads/2016/05/p_study_hbs_319.pdf) and the development and implementation of a certificate (seal of quality) for cultural institutions.
The improvement of the framework conditions for artists and cultural workers has also been discussed in parliament (e.g. expert discussion in the culture committee of the German Bundestag in 2017). The current coalition agreement also dedicates a separate section to the “social situation in art and culture”. Specifically, it mentions as goals: Transparency about and closing of the gender pay gap, juries and committees with equal and diverse representation, reporting on the social situation, inclusion of minimum remuneration in the funding guidelines, better protection of hybrid stabilisation of the KSK and an increase in additional income limits from self-employed non-artistic work. (https://www.bundesregierung.de/resource/blob/974430/1990812/04221173eef9a6720059cc353d759a2b
/2021-12-10-koav2021-data.pdf?download=1, S.121). The Conference of Ministers of Culture is also currently dealing intensively with the social situation of artists and is developing concrete measures to support them.5
Artistic freedom is enshrined as a fundamental right in Germany in Article 5(3) of the Basic Law. There it is one of the most strongly protected fundamental rights in the German catalogue of fundamental rights. The Federal Constitutional Court counts artistic freedom among the basic rights of communication and therefore considers it essential to the basic democratic order.
In the last five years, there has been increased discussion in Germany about the freedom of art. The “freemuse reports” also list violations of artistic freedom in Germany, One specific occasion was the cancellation of the concert by the left-wing punk band “Feine Sahne Fischfilet” at the Bauhaus in Dessau in November 2018. The director’s argumentation was that the design and architecture school, as a Unesco World Heritage Site, should not become a venue for political agitation and aggression. The Bauhaus board feared in particular the demonstrations already announced by right-wing groups in front of the Bauhaus. Numerous actors from politics, cultural practice, the feuilleton and civil society took a stand against this decision, among them the former director of the Bauhaus, who interpreted the cancellation of the concert as a damage to democracy and cultural life in Germany. The band’s concert was eventually realised at another venue in Dessau.
The discussion of artistic freedom was also prompted by demands from the AfD that no public funds be used for The “neutrality requirement” has been the subject of numerous events and legal disputes. The issue of “neutrality” has been the subject of numerous events and legal disputes.
As part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law in May 2019, a number of events and media reports also took place on the topic of artistic freedom.
The topic of artistic freedom is at the centre of the Arts Rights Justice programme, which is based at the UNESCO Chair of Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development at the University of Hildesheim. From 2017 to 2019, the project investigated the persecution of artists and the threat to artistic freedom internationally, offered documents in the form of an online library, organised exchange forums and initiated advocacy groups.
But various actors from cultural policy and cultural practice also warn against restricting the freedom of art through “exaggerated political correctness”. Discussions on the topic of “cancel culture” have increased in the last two years.
During the Corona crisis, the discussions about the restriction of fundamental freedoms as well as the direct and indirect attacks on artistic freedom and the search for cultural policy responses gained in importance.
Numerous intermediary organisations (including the Goethe-Institut) and associations have set themselves the goal of supporting the mobility of artists. The International Society of Fine Arts, for example, represents the interests of visual artists, among other things with the information portal touring-artists (https://www.touring-artists.info/home/), which contains a wealth of information for mobile visual and performing artists on the topics of visas, customs, taxes, social insurance, etc. and with numerous projects and events on mobility and international exchange.