Basic income or general strike

Culture does not work because the creators live in persistent precariousness

Gustav Metzger, Norfolk, Anglaterra, 1960. Foto: Ida Kar. © National Portrait Gallery, Londres.
Basic income or general strike

At the end of the year I participated in one of the Conca commissions to think about the situation of the creative sector and the arts. We all agreed on one issue: the shared precariousness of critics, curators and artists. And of the entire cultural productive sector. In fact, we've been going over the same thing for many years and we always come to the same conclusion: the situation of creators is precarious.

In parallel to this agreement, most of the cultural policies applied to the arts involve increasing budget allocations to infrastructures in the form of new events (Manifesto) or extensions (Macba, MNAC). But, in view of experience, it is clear that more museums, more art centers and more events have not contributed to putting an end to the precariousness of creators.

What if we turned the equation upside down? Instead of pyramiding investing from the top and waiting for the money to reach the substrate, pay directly with money to the creative foundations. That is, less expansions and budgets for events and more solutions to the basic problem: that the culture does not work because we creators cannot live.

A fact: more than 60% of cultural workers have incomes below the interprofessional minimum wage. Beyond the subsidy as a prolonged form of agony, if the idea of basic income is politically on the table, why not start by applying it to creators as a clearly precarious sector?

If the data on precariousness proves anything, it is that, apart from any profit, artists work, critics write and curators organize exhibitions wherever they are... With the basic income there would be a generation of creators who could work and generate culture, but with living conditions. And this generation would already find the places to have visibility. Whether the gallery owners sell or not, whether a work is marketable or not, would be a problem for the gallery owners. Museums would not be a temporary salary solution for artists and curators, they would exhibit if the place convinced them and not out of necessity. And the culture would be strengthened by its creators.

Maybe the problem is that we keep creating. It is not crazy, therefore, to consider a shutdown, a general strike of culture. To the cultural producers, to the creators, we have plenty of reasons.

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