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Cilgia Gadola: "This can overwhelm many"

Cilgia Gadola: "This can overwhelm many"
Photo: © Jörg Metzner

What is the state of social security and pension provision in the performing arts? This question was investigated by the research project "Systemcheck" of the Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste in cooperation with the ensemble network, the Institut für interdisziplinäre Arbeitswissenschaft and the Institute for Cultural Governance Berlin. We talked about the results with Cilgia Gadola, head of the project at the Bundesverband Freie Darstellende Künste. 




CCB Magazine: Ms. Gadola, as part of the "Systemcheck" research project, you investigated the social security of solo self-employed and hybrid workers in the performing arts. What were your key findings? 

Cilgia Gadola:The research results provide reliable data on the fact that incomes in the performing arts are on average too low and that social security is often not sufficiently possible. In 2021, for example, the average annual net income was 20,500 euros, even though the NEUSTART KULTUR program funded more than usual in that year. For our project, we surveyed a total of 900 people. These come to an average of 12,000 euros gross annually in the course of employment from the age of 18. 

Our respondents come to an average of 12,000 euros gross per year. And the situation is particularly dramatic for women

CCB Magazine:One focus was on the gender pay gap and retirement security. What were you able to find out about this? 

Cilgia Gadola:The gender pay gap is almost 30 percent - so the situation is even more dramatic for women in the performing arts. This is also true for pregnant women and parents or guardians. For example, self-employed workers often earn lower benefits during pregnancy and parental leave, due to low earnings in advance and the assessment period for parental benefits. A similar problem arises for people who have one or more discriminatory characteristics: For these actors, access to the security systems and support programs is even more difficult. And as far as old-age security is concerned, it can be said that for the majority, old-age poverty will indeed occur. It is true that some of the solo self-employed and hybrid workers are trying to secure themselves in a variety of ways, and those who are insured through the artists' social insurance (KSK) pay into the statutory pension insurance for almost their entire working lives. But they achieve far too low a benefit, due in part to irregularities in income and the many unpaid work periods. That is why in many cases income will have a direct impact on social security: On average, pension expectations are around 780 euros, and here, too, there are clear differences between men and women - women receive an average of 674 euros, men 913 euros. 

CCB Magazine:The Corona pandemic in particular has further exacerbated the income situation. Overall, the total revenue of the cultural and creative industries had fallen to EUR 160.4 billion in 2020, almost nine percent less than in 2019. The performing arts were hit the hardest, with a drop of 81 percent. How has the pandemic specifically affected retirement provision? 

Cilgia Gadola:This made the situation even worse, because many people had to use up their reserves, for example for old age, during the pandemic.

CCB Magazine:You have examined a total of four forms of work: solo self-employment, multiple solo self-employment, synchronous hybrid employment, and serial hybrid employment. Can you explain the differences? 

Cilgia Gadola:Solo self-employment targets only one type of activity, while multiple solo self-employment combines various artistic or artistic with non-artistic self-employment activities. Synchronous hybrid self-employment, in turn, combines different types of activities, such as a part-time job with parallel solo self-employment. And in serial hybrid employment, short-term dependent or non-permanent employment alternates - for example, through guest contracts at municipal theaters and solo self-employment in the liberal performing arts.

CCB Magazine:Which forms of work dominate? And which are particularly affected by a lack of security and rising old-age poverty?

Cilgia Gadola:Forty-three percent of respondents were solo-self-employed, and slightly more than a quarter were multiple solo-self-employed, i.e., with different activities. One-fifth were hybrid employed, and only seven percent of respondents were multiple employed in the last month before the survey. Our results demonstrate that many of the solo self-employed and hybrid workers will not make it above the basic income support level in retirement, which is due to the many precarious income conditions over the years. 

Many of the solo self-employed and hybrid workers in particular will not be able to get above the basic income support level in retirement, due to the many precarious income conditions over the years

CCB Magazine:For a long time, the employment status of actors in the performing arts was strongly characterized by solo self-employment. Since the mid-1990s, the phenomenon of hybrid employment has been expanding. What are the reasons for this? 

Cilgia Gadola:The reason is that in the performing arts there is an increasing permeability of the previously strongly separated systems "independent scene" and "municipal theater". This development has been described in more detail by sociologist Alexandra Manske in an article in the "Systemcheck" topic dossier "Das Schlechteste aus zwei Welten?": The development is an expression of post-industrial flexibilized processes of power and domination. Because of flexibilization, the actors do not really have the choice of combining self-employed and dependent work relationships, even though their work is an expression of self-fulfillment - and this is self-chosen. 

CCB Magazine:You also formulate various recommendations for action in the study. What are your demands for improving income structures and averting poverty in old age?

Cilgia Gadola:We formulate eleven recommendations for action, which focus on seven core issues: incomes must be increased, and the artists' social insurance fund (KSK) must be expanded. Then we need to avert old-age poverty, introduce a professional pension scheme and a hardship fund for this purpose, and provide better protection against unemployment. In addition, we need accident insurance to be included in the KSK, which has been lacking up to now. We also need better coverage for childbearing mothers and legal guardians. The wording of all the recommendations for action can be found in the final documentation and in the policy paper. A further seven options for action cover the topics of eligibility criteria, barrier reduction and qualification, which can also be found in the final documentation.

CCB Magazine:For solo self-employed and hybrid workers, there is as yet no functioning pension chamber for additional protection in old age, in the event of occupational disability and in the event of death, as has been set up for salaried employees in many areas in the arts and culture. What are the reasons for this and what are you calling for here?

Cilgia Gadola:For a few years now, the self-employed have also been able to take out insurance with the Bavarian Chamber of Pensions. But our research on this has shown that with the low amounts that can be paid in on average, this is not worthwhile without a subsidy - as it works for employees. Therefore, we call for the above-mentioned introduction of an occupational pension scheme for solo self-employed and hybrid workers that is geared to their working realities. Our recommendation in this regard is that this be designed flexibly and introduced within the KSK so that it also falls under the regulations that provide for subsidizing the contributions of the insured.

CCB Magazine:One trend in recent years has been to additionally position oneself in the area of sustainability. Doesn't this represent an excessive demand for many, if one cannot even live sufficiently from one's own work? In other words, how do you reconcile ecological, social and economic sustainability so that ecological aspirations and social security are in harmony?​​​​​​​

Cilgia Gadola:This can certainly overwhelm many, and it is also a topic that has occupied the BFDK for a long time and on which a project is being planned for 2024. We believe that the three dimensions must be better thought through together in the future and then also work better. At this point, I would add the component of "public funding," since those working in the liberal performing arts generate most of their income through this. And here it becomes apparent that sustainable funding programs in particular would not leave any work phases unfunded, and well-positioned resumption funding could ensure that productions have a long life. In other words, both are important factors for artistic development and would have an influence on a more stable economic situation for the actors. And if productions have a long life, materials would not only be used for a longer period of time. Tours could be planned long in advance, which tends to increase turnover and makes ecologically sensible travel planning possible. 

Category: Knowledge & Analysis


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