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Session Overview
RN02_03b_P: Sociological Perspectives on Cultural Policy
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
6:00pm - 7:30pm

Session Chair: Victoria D. Alexander, Goldsmiths, University of London
Location: PA.1.2
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 1.

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Access to Art in Europe: A Comparative Study


University of Haifa, Israel

One of the main stated goals of agencies funding the arts is improving the access to art. The notion of access is built on the premise that cultural consumption would be more widespread if it were not for barriers that prevent it. Increasing access actually means devising arts policy that will aid in removing the barriers that prevent potential art consumers from realizing their desires or preferences. However, the discourse about access to art is somewhat vague and incoherent since access has different levels and dimensions which require different policy responses.

In this paper I suggest, based on previous literature, a theoretical framework that identifies different dimensions and levels of the notion of access to art. I distinguish between the levels of: rights, opportunity, consumption, reception and active participation in relation to arts attendance and creation.

I identify how these different dimensions of access are linked to different socio-economic characteristics by analyzing data from two Eurobarometer surveys conducted in 2007 and 2013 that contain a module on cultural access. Using data from 27 European countries I study how different social characteristics are related to the different dimensions of access suggested by the theory. I show how the social patterns underlying the prevalence of barriers to access to art differ between countries and between the years 2007 and 2013. The results of the empirical analyses have implications for planning of arts policy that aims to increase access to art.

The Role and Status of Artist Organization in Nordic Cultural Policy – a comparative outline

Maria Hirvi-Ijäs

Cupore, Center for Cultural Policy Research, Finland

The role of artist organizations within the field cultural policy has in the Nordic countries been regarded as fundamental and relevant from a cultural democratic point of view. They have also been given a status as agents embodying a specific qualitative expertise not found elsewhere. In recent overview studies and reports it is possible to discern some shifts and new demands of specificity, where the traditional roles are questioned. How can these shifts and demands be made visible and possibly concretized?

In my presentation I will talk about a short comparative study between The Artist Association of Finland and the National Organization of Artist in Sweden. The organizations represent each about 3000 artists in the field of visual art, and in Sweden including design.

In the comparison I look at the organizations from five aspects:

1. History, aim and organizational structure

2. Definitions of artists, identification and profile

3. Definitions of profession and job market

4. Cultural political goals and strategies

5. Experienced impact on cultural policy

This study is a part of my larger ongoing research on discursive, ideological and strategical differences in the cultural policies of the Nordic countries.


Suomen taiteilijaseura/ The Artist Association of Finland, website,

Konstnärernas Riksorganisation/ National Organisation of Artist, website,

Anders Olofsson: En sju decenniers lång strid,

Hanne Selkokari (red): 150 vuotta kuvataiteilijoiden puolesta,

Hirvi-Ijäs, Sokka, Rensujeff, Koski: Taiteen ja kulttuurin barometri 2016, Cupore (forthcoming)

KRO/KIF: Analys av regeringens handlingsplan för bild och form,

Visual artists' self-representation in subsidy requests. A case study of Flanders, 1965 – 1999.

Julia Peters

Ghent University, Belgium

Since the romantic bohemian movement, (visual) artists have found themselves in a precarious economic position. Many artist careers are contingent upon government funding. Then, how do artists (re-)present themselves to the state as worthy of this indispensable support? I present a first sociological exploration of this question through a case study of 17 visual artists’ grant application processes, i.e. the letter exchange between the artists and government commissions, taken from an archive containing all grant applications in Flanders from 1965 to 1999. I find several ways in which artists claim their subsidy-worthiness, among which “the suffering artist”, “the integrated professional” and “the socially engaged artist”, touching upon questions about the contextuality of what an artist is considered to be, about the isomorphism between individual artists and cultural policy, and about the neo-liberalization of cultural policy.

Unmaking culture through austerity: Effects of material deprivation on visual artists

Alexandros Baltzis, Nikolaos Tsigilis

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

The paper presents some results of an original survey in a sample of 591 visual artists in Greece, focusing on their living and working conditions. This sample represents 10% of the total members of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece (margin of error ±3.82%, 95% confidence interval). The questionnaire includes over 250 variables embracing a wide range of issues, including standard indicators of material deprivation, as well as questions comparing the situation before and after the introduction of the austerity programmes. The research was carried out by the School of Journalism & Mass Communications (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki), in collaboration with the State Museum of Contemporary Art and supported by the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece. This survey is the first of its kind carried out in the country. The survey is part of a wider attempt to study cultural work in Greece and it is based on previous exploratory study with focus groups about the working conditions of visual artists and film makers.

An overall index of economic strain was calculated enhancing the material deprivation indicator with the enforced inability to afford an atelier (Cronbach’s Alpha = .893). Analysis of variance showed that respondents answer consistently about their income. The overall index of economic strain was used to compare variables about the living and working conditions of visual artists before and after the introduction of the austerity policies. The findings illustrate an extended deprivation of the material conditions required to work as a visual artist in Greece.

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