The financial position of artists and those in the labor market is much talked about and discussed, and several studies have recently been conducted on the subject. What everyone already knew is now substantiated with figures from the Council for Culture and the SER: the position of the artist is not good and deserves attention. In many cases, paying artists for their work turns out to be a balancing item on the budget. For artists it is the other way around: making art is not a balancing item but the basis. Perhaps that is precisely why it is almost natural to make it a closing item; for artists, their work comes first; they continue to work and have a need to present their work.

The lousy position of artists is getting more and more attention in various media, and museums and curators are taking it more seriously. One organization that is very active in this field is Platform BK, among others as part of the BKNL organization. At the beginning of February, Platform BK organized a well-attended debate evening at Casco in Utrecht on the question "Who pays the artist?" (see the report on their website). The subject is alive and there is a need for a good guideline. BKNL has therefore proposed to Minister Bussemaker that of the 2 million it is making available to improve the position of artists on the labor market, 7 tons should be reserved for research into a concrete guideline for artists' fees and an initial capital for realization. At the end of the first quarter of this year, the Council for Culture will advise the minister on how to spend the 2 million.

The fact that artists' fees are regularly the closing item on the budget is diametrically opposed to the call for entrepreneurial artists. From the exploration of the Council for Culture and the SER (see also page 4) shows that the bargaining power of artists is not good. Because the demand for paid labor has declined, competition among workmen in the sector is high, often resulting in work at very low rates. Sometimes artists work for free - allowing themselves to practice their profession and anticipating paid work in the future. This makes it difficult for entrepreneurship to flourish.

Something else that will have an inhibiting effect on artists' entrepreneurship is the abolition of the VAR, which for artists - usually with many clients in a year - means, among other things, that they will spend much more time on their administration (see page 6). The petition set up against the abolition of the VAR collected more than 25,000 signatures in a short time in February, and continues until April 2 (

Paying artists (well) and improving their position in the labor market involves a choice in favor of the arts. Reputation also plays a role. When artists earn structurally poorly, it has a negative effect on the image of the artistic profession. A poor image discourages new generations from choosing a career in the arts, resulting in the loss of talent. Art as a balancing item in the budget is therefore undermining on several fronts and it is the responsibility of everyone - from politics, art and educational institutions to artists - to ensure in every possible way that art and artists are no longer the balancing item in the budget.

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