In Serbia, all artists that are employed in cultural institutions are public servants under the Public Servants Law Regime (2005). The new Law on Culture envisages the introduction of a new model in which artists will be engaged on a contractual basis rather than as employees. Since these steps would cause large dis-satisfaction in the field of culture, especially during the financial crisis period, with a large number of unemployed people across the sector, these changes have not became operational until now. Although, we are still sceptical about the determination of the decision makers to start the systemic changes, which are not popular, the very difficult current financial situation, as well as the financial projections for the public cultural sector for the next couple of years, will probably push these changes. The alternative would be to close a number of public institutions, or even more severe cutting of budgets.
A general change has been made through Labour Law, and Law on Public Administration (2005) which affected artists employed in public institutions and those working part-time in public institutions. There are restrictions on double employment in the public sector that are preventing artists employed by art schools to be also employed by public theatres (which was often the case, i.e., a professor of theatre-directing being, at the same time, an artistic director of the theatre, etc.). This is also regulated by the new Law on Culture and, through the sub laws, types of employment in the cultural and arts sector has been defined (more in chapter 4.2.1).
Collective bargaining agreements exist in the fields of theatre, archives, museums, libraries and institutes for heritage protection. A special section of the trade unions are responsible for bargaining, enforcing and monitoring these agreements. On 29 August 2003, the City of Belgrade signed special collective agreements with all of the relevant trade unions, which cover 1 600 employees in the city’s cultural institutions.