Frank Hartmann on Thu, 21 Feb 2002 21:38:02 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] entrepreneurial cultural worker

This is a forwarded abstract of the EU study

Commissioned by DG Employment and Social Affairs
Munich, Cologne, Vienna, Barcelona, 2001.

Exploitation and development of the job potential in the cultural sector
in the age of digitalisation

Up until recently, the economic and labour market aspects of the arts
and cultural sector were of secondary significance in the welfare state.
Culture was seen as part of social policy and was not considered an area
which could or should be subject to "normal" economic criteria, since
these criteria were interpreted as incompatible with culture. In the
last 10 years, the number of commissioned scientific studies and
political programmes on the broad topical spectrum of "Cultural Economy
and Employment" has increased dramatically. Both the current discussion
on the theory of culture and current policy are characterised by two
processes which are independent and affect each otherís further
development: one speaks of the "economisation" of culture, on the one
hand, and the "culturalisation" of economy, on the other hand.

The cultural sector is characterised by a high share of freelancers and
very small companies. A new type of employer is emerging in the form of
the "entrepreneurial individual" or "entrepreneurial cultural worker",
who no longer fits into previously typical patterns of full-time
professions. Despite the unsatisfactory data situation, it was possible
to carry out a practicable statistical demarcation of the cultural
sector within the framework of this study. The most important
quantitative characteristics of the cultural sector were ascertainable
and were able to provide for an approximate solution. According to the
broadest definition, there are currently 7.2 million workers in the EU
cultural sector. This figure is significantly higher that assumed in
previous studies.

Continued employment growth in the creative occupations of the cultural
sector is to be expected in the future since the demand for cultural
products and services is strongly increasing, both from private
households and from companies. Employment growth in the area of
distribution will also increase, but not at the same rate as in the
development of cultural "products". "Content producers" seem to be in
greater demand than marketing and sales persons. Generally speaking, the
rapidly increasing digitalisation of cultural products will result in
"traditional" cultural media, such as books and printed matter, losing
significance, while new media, such as Internet web sites, will come to
the fore, also in terms of employment.

The "digital culture" is the result of an interaction between
"traditional" culture (content), the TIMES sector (technology) and
services/distribution. The increasingly used term TIMES sector
(Telecommunication, Internet, Multimedia, E-commerce, Software and
Security) is used in this study to cover the whole audio-visual sector,
i.e. the entire multimedia sector, including culture industry areas such
as TV, publishing, and the music industry. The TIMES sector in the EU is
characterised by very small companies. Only 13.2 % of the companies have
more than 50 employees. There is a very high share of freelancers, with
1.3 freelancers for every regular employee. In contrast, at 30 %, the
share of women is very low. The percentage of women employed in creative
occupations is even lower, and when it comes to company start-ups, only
20 % of new TIMES companies are set up by women.

Digital culture demonstrates enormous employment dynamics, particularly
in the areas of multimedia and software. These two sub-sectors are those
with the greatest demand for content and creativity and therefore
represent the best employment opportunities for creative workers. There
are currently approximately 1.5 million companies in the EU active in
the areas of multimedia and software, representing a total of 12.4
million workers. Assuming a declining annual growth rate over the next
10 years from 10 percent in 2001 to just 3 percent in 2011, we can
estimate 22 million jobs in the year 2011. Thus, approximately 9.6
million new jobs will be created in multimedia and software in the next

However, the TIMES sector is currently already experiencing great
bottlenecks of personnel on an EU-wide level. This shortage of qualified
personnel represents the number one hindrance to growth in the TIMES
sector. In digital culture, completely new job profiles and
qualification content are presently emerging which are extremely
interesting for cultural workers. The rule of the thumb which can be
applied to this sector is that the entire technical segment, including
technology, infrastructure, hardware and printing, will undergo a period
of relative stagnation or even decline (with regard to both jobs and
contribution to the value adding process), whereas all content-oriented
i.e. creative areas of employment will continue to show high growth
rates (Web design, advertising, publishing, media, education,
entertainment, etc.)

A large number of good practices in the EU are related to the new job
profiles within digital culture and offer corresponding qualification
measures. However, In the light of the enormous need for qualification,
they are still no where near sufficient in number. As a rule, the
outstanding good practices are organised as public-private-partnerships.
Company involvement has proven its worth, but can turn out to be
problematic, namely if companies place too high a priority on their
demand for short-term returns.

Digital culture has acted as an employment motor in the past, and will
continue to do so in the future, primarily based upon the strong demand
within the TIMES sector for creativity and content. At the same time,
dramatic personnel bottlenecks can already be observed in this sector
today. Thus, policy makers must better orient their instruments of
employment policy toward this area, both on the European and national
levels. Within the framework of European Employment Policy, there is a
still a widespread deficit of specific information, communication and
funding tools, especially in the area of training and further education.
Thus, within the context of subsidisation policy, the economic sector
with the best prospects for growth and employment is being extensively
neglected, is not being sufficiently recorded in employment statistics
and its needs are not being adequately looked after.

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