25 November 2021
Our selection of nine infographics portray the situation of Slovenian workers in the cultural and creative sectors. One of the characteristics of our field is that we don’t know each other all that well. We are very different, sometimes working in completely unrelated subfields. At the same time, attempts at studying cultural workers frequently focus on the self-employed in culture and leave out certain categories, regardless of their employment status.
The profiles featured here therefore represent the first attempt at providing a more thorough understanding of a Slovenian worker in the cultural and creative sectors, questioning various assumptions that are often associated with their work and life.
Slovenian Creative Workers in Nine Pictures
The shoes of statistics often don’t fit very well, as the complexity of our society and its multifaceted issues are nearly impossible to capture in numbers. We are unlikely to meet a statistically average person in real life. They will always have too much or too little of something, never just enough of what the data is telling us.
Nevertheless, below is a selection of nine diagrams, infographics whose aim is to portray the situation of Slovenian workers in the cultural and creative sectors. One of the characteristics of our field is that we don’t know each other all that well. We are very different, sometimes working in completely unrelated subfields. At the same time, attempts at studying cultural workers frequently focus on the self-employed in culture and leave out certain categories, regardless of their employment status. The profiles featured here therefore represent the first attempt at providing a more thorough understanding of a Slovenian worker in the cultural and creative sectors, questioning various assumptions that are often associated with their work and life.
Poligon started conducting the first studies on the sectors’ work challenges soon after the opening of our creative centre in Ljubljana in 2014, followed by a more detailed study in collaboration with cultural non-profit organisation Asociacija in 2018/19 as part of a service offering administrative advice for the self-employed in culture. This consisted of extensive interviews with workers, which allowed us to identify the key variables and the most significant challenges facing the cultural and creative sectors. One of the proposed solutions to the identified problems was a manual of exercises to upgrade soft professional skills, Svoboda Espe (Free?lancers), published in early 2021. But an opportunity for a more comprehensive quantitative study arose at the beginning of the epidemic, when Poligon, with the support of the Centre for Creativity, started measuring the impact of the epidemic on the life and work of workers in the cultural and creative sectors. This study is unique, as the cultural and creative sectors are the only ones in Slovenia with such detailed data on the impact of the epidemic. Moreover, no other country in Europe has carried out a comparable longitudinal study for the cultural and creative sectors; the study in Slovenia spans four surveys over a period of two years, and the three surveys conducted thus far included 10% of the total active population or 3,454 cultural workers.
While the three reports focused mainly on the business aspects and ways of dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 epidemic, the focus of these infographics is non-epidemic. The diagrams aim to present the situation of Slovenian workers in the cultural and creative sectors; to give a general picture of how they live and work. The total population and generation-based infographics combine the data of all 3,454 workers, irrespective of the worker’s field of activity or employment status. For subfields with at least one hundred respondents, industry-specific infographics were designed. These subfields were: performance arts, graphic design, music, architecture, film and AV, visual arts (sculpture, painting and drawing) and literature, publishing, libraries and translation. A breakdown by generation was prepared for all the workers who took the survey, highlighting the differences and similarities between them by age group.
The analysis findings build on the conclusions drawn from the previous three reports, reaffirming the workers’ difficult economic situation, great social vulnerability and lack of assistance and support. The generation-based analysis shows that the economic situation of most cultural workers has not improved over time, which is quite discouraging and disconcerting. Even though administration likes to classify them into specific fields, our data shows that cultural workers are clear hybrids, most of whom work in more than one subfield, many even in three or more. For the fourth time, our results demonstrated a high degree of independence from the state, which is completely contrary to the common belief among the politicians and the general public that artists live off state support and the taxpayers’ money. Two thirds of workers do not receive public funding, many of them have not gotten any support during the epidemic and an extremely low percentage of workers are employed in the public sector. We should therefore ask ourselves: is the existing system of public financing fair or accessible for everyone who need it and deserve it for the good work that they do?
It is probably true that statistics often try to fit a shoe that is a size too small or too big for many people. Nevertheless, we hope that the data below will help gain a more profound understanding of workers in the cultural and creative sectors. This collection of data could also prove to be a useful tool for decision-makers in future attempts at creating more efficient support systems for the two sectors. We would like to thank everyone involved for their time and effort to participate in the study. A special thank you goes to all the experts and journalists who have used our findings in their work. It is because of the incredible support “from the field” that we derive even greater satisfaction from continuing our mission.
The data was collected in three periods: in spring and autumn 2020 and in spring 2021. The survey targeted all workers, regardless of their legal status: students, contract workers, the self-employed in culture, private entrepreneurs, those employed in companies, in non-profit organisations, associations and cooperatives, those employed in public institutions and also unregistered workers. The first survey had a sample of 1,521 respondents, the second 1,578 respondents and the third 1,517 respondents working in 21 different subfields of the cultural and creative sectors.
The method used in the collection of data was quantitative research. An online questionnaire was designed. The first questionnaire contained 41 questions, which were further developed by topic in the following two versions; the second questionnaire therefore contained 55 questions and the third 73 questions. In all three versions, mostly multiple-choice and combined question types or scales were used. Open-ended questions, which were analysed using the qualitative method, proved to be extremely useful in all three surveys.
So far, three parts of the study Slovenian Cultural and Creative Worker in Times of COVID-19, which contain the results of all three surveys, have been published and are available at www.poligon.si. The infographics were based on a joint sample comprising respondents who participated in at least one of the three surveys, a total of 3,454 workers. The workers who participated in two or three surveys were counted only once. The third survey (1,504 units) represents the basis for the total sample. The second survey contributed 1,356 units. And the first survey represents the smallest share of the total sample (594 units or 17.7%). We had problems with the sample in the first survey because the question about subfields allowed several answers, as a result of which the respondents who chose more than one subfield could not be included in the total sample. This problem was eliminated in the following surveys.
Table 1 shows the structure of the sample of workers in the cultural and creative sectors by primary subfield. As the following infographics show, most workers are active in their primary and additional subfields – 2.2 subfields on average. The main subfields with more than one hundred respondents were included in a detailed analysis and presented in subfield-specific infographics.
• SOCIO-DEMOGRAPHIC VARIABLES:
average age, average number of years of work experience, gender.
• WORK AND COLLABORATION:
number of co-workers in informal types of collaboration, employment status.
• SOCIAL (IN)SECURITY:
individual’s net income, property ownership, partnership, household net income.
• KNOW-HOW AND EXPERIENCE:
level of education, number of subfields (only samples of the 2nd and 3rd surveys) and subfield interconnectedness.
• WORK LOCATION:
town, region of work.
professional mission, leaving the sector.
• RELATIONSHIP WITH THE STATE:
public financing, eligibility for government support, employment status in public institutions.
• PRICE OF THE EPIDEMIC:
loss of business, work efficiency, changes in individual’s income (decrease/increase), sufficiency of government support, office space, work location, changes in household income (decrease/increase).
In terms of employment status, 47.3% of respondents are in various forms of self-employment: self-employed in culture or private entrepreneurs, including part-time entrepreneurs. These are followed by workers in the most precarious forms of employment, a total of 13.3%, i.e. student, contract and undocumented workers. Only 9.1% of respondents work in public institutions on a permanent or fixed-term contract. A total of 8.9% of respondents work in companies and 4.6% of respondents work in private institutions, cooperatives or associations. A total of 16.9% of respondents have other or undetermined types of employment.
The survey questions pertained to five topics and measured 38 variables. Only some of these variables are included in the infographics. Some of them were adjusted or recoded appropriately for analysis purposes.
Two types of statistical analysis were used: univariants to analyse one variant at the same time and bivariants to analyse two variants at the same time. The report only contains univariant statistical analyses. The study was conducted in three parts and represents the only comprehensive study of the effects of the COVID- 19 epidemic on workers in the cultural and creative sectors in Slovenia. This being the first study of its kind conducted in Slovenia, we met a few challenges along the way. The first questionnaire sent out less than a month after the beginning of the epidemic had certain shortcomings, which were eliminated in the following two surveys, and each report was more complete than the previous one. The main problem in studying workers in the cultural and creative sectors is the lack of past research encompassing all types of employment and all sector subfields. Thus, the analysis results cannot be evaluated appropriately on a comparative basis, even in terms of sociodemographic data.
There are numerous possibilities for future sector analyses, as our database is growing and already covers one tenth of the total active workforce in the two sectors. As there are many unanswered questions and our motivation for research remains strong, the survey will be repeated in 2022 and the findings will be presented to the interested audiences in the most engaging and comprehensive format possible.
Design: Maruša Račič