Economic and social situation of the artists
As early as 1975, the German government had presented a report on the social situation of artists in Germany. As a reaction, the legislator affirmed that artists and publicists were particularly in need of protection and passed the Artists’ Social Security Act. Since then, this artists’ social insurance has become a central instrument for supporting the social situation of artists and publicists by creating access to statutory health, nursing and pension insurance. In 1999, the Budget Committee of the German Parliament asked the Federal Government to submit another report on the social situation of artists and the draft amendment to the KSVG. The Federal Government responded to this request with a 55-page report.
The social situation of artists has become a major theme in recent years. Various studies have been published, such as Zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage in den Kulturberufen (German Cultural Council 2013) and Zur wirtschaftlichen und sozialen Lage der Bildenden Künstlerinnen (BBK 2016). The Cultural Committee of the German Parliament also held a specialist discussion on this topic in 2017, with the aim of improving the framework conditions for the exercise of artistic-creative professions.
In 2013, the international movement “Art but fair” was launched, whose aim is to achieve 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 by, among other things, publishing studies like Fair working conditions in the performing arts and music? (2016) and developing and implementing a certificate (quality seal) for cultural institutions.
Artistic freedom, as a fundamental right that serves to protect artistic forms of expression, is anchored in Germany in Article 5 (3) of the Basic Law. There it is one of the most protected fundamental rights in the German catalogue of fundamental rights.
In the last two years, there has been an increasing discussion in Germany about the freedom of art. One concrete occasion was the cancellation of the concert of the punk band left-wing 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 cultural heritage site, should not become a venue for political agitation and aggression. The Bauhaus board feared in particular the demonstrations in front of the Bauhaus, which had already been announced by right-wing groups. Numerous actors from politics, cultural practice, the feature pages and civil society took a stand against this decision, including the former director of the Bauhaus, who interpreted the cancellation of the concert as damaging democracy and cultural life in Germany. The band’s concert was finally realised at another venue in Dessau.
The discussion of artistic freedom was also prompted by demands by the AfD not to make public funds available for “primarily politically motivated” art and culture, which they represent in party programmes and state parliaments. However, various actors from cultural policy and cultural practice also warn against restricting the freedom of art through “excessive political correctness”.
As part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law in May 2019, a series of events and media reports also took place on the subject of artistic freedom.
The issue of artistic freedom is at the heart of the Arts Rights Justice programme, which is based at the UNESCO Chair Cultural Policy for the Arts in Development at the University of Hildesheim. From 2017 to 2019, the project examined 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 activities.
Promoting the mobility of artists
Numerous intermediary organisations (including the Goethe-Institut) and associations have set themselves the goal of supporting the mobility of artists. The interests of visual artists are represented by the International Society of Fine Arts (IGBK), for example, with the information portal “touring-artists”, which contains a wealth of information for mobile visual and performing artists on visas, customs, taxes, social security, etc., and with numerous projects and events on mobility and international exchange.