Exploitation and Development of the Job Potential in the Cultural Sector in the Age of Digitalisation

   European Commission Press Release   Prospects and Recommendations   How to Order

The study shows that the increase in jobs in the cultural sector exceeds that in the economy as a whole by a factor of three (1.2% annual growth as a whole in the second half of the 1990s as compared to 3.8% in the leisure, culture and sports sector). The continuation of this trend is to be expected ­ among other things because traditional cultural media are being replaced by digital applications.

One further result of the study is that more people are working in this sector than previous studies had assumed: at present 7.2m people are employed in this sector and the trend is rising. The employment structure in the sector is overwhelmingly composed of freelances; the employees work in very small companies and frequently in atypical conditions of employment.

New opportunities for the flexibilisation of labour are emerging for the future. On the other hand, there is the danger that groups who are already disadvantaged will be further marginalised because they have more difficult access to these new technologies.


   Prospects and Recommendations

In order to utilise the job potential of this sector more effectively, the authors recommend action at the following three levels:

Orientation Assistance for Policy and Integration
(such as, for example, increased networking, new programmes for SMEs in the culture and media sector)
Information and Communication
for example, harmonised EU-wide basic statistical foundations, a European platform on job offers in the digital culture, etc.) and
An Affirmative Action Programme
(Start-ups in the cultural sector as well as specific education and training measures ­ as most start-up companies in the cultural and digital sector fail, etc.)

   How to Order

A print version of the summary in English or German and the final report in English can be ordered from the Österreichische Kulturdokumentation:
by phone: ++43-1-535 27 05
by fax: ++43-1-533 49 89
by email: office@kulturdokumentation.org

The publications themselves are free of charge. Postage costs will be charged.

The English summary of the study can be found online on the website of the EU Commission's Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs:


   European Commission Press Release

A study just out shows that job increases in the cultural sector have outpaced those in the wider economy more than threefold. While EU employment grew overall by a moderate 1.2 % annually during the second half of the nineties, the growth in recreational, cultural and sporting activities was 3.8 %. The study, carried out by a group of German, Austrian and Spanish institutes, points out that the sector employs 7.2 million workers, far more than assumed by previous studies. Many of these are self-employed freelancers or from very small companies, working to non-standard patterns, and their number is set to rise further as new digital applications replace more traditional cultural media. Alongside the new possibilities for work flexibility in the sector, however, the study also stresses that already disadvantaged groups risk further marginalization because of difficulties in accessing these new technologies.

Historically, the link between economy and culture has long been met with scepticism or outright rejection in the European tradition of cultural criticism. "Culture as commodity" and commercial cultural products were long absent from public cultural support - these were the responsibility of commerce and industry. This has changed. Pop and consumer culture have established new relationships. Greater individualism and pluralism in lifestyles, and culture as a reservoir of differences and distinctions have further contributed to an erosion in the differentiation between high and low culture. In the process, the criteria of arts and culture subsidy systems have also shifted. The traditional strict separation between a publicly subsidised non-commercial cultural sector and the cultural industry has been increasingly "softening" in favour of mixed forms.

Among a broader public, however, one interpretation of the arts and culture - namely that they only cost money obstinately persists. For a long time, in the public debate, the broad range of supported, subsidised arts and culture was rarely associated with innovative activities, despite the fact that the specific benefit of this public support for private enterprise is obvious in the interrelationship between public support for the arts and cultural productions. The study underlines that the "marketisation" of culture and the "culturalisation" of the market means that high culture is becoming increasingly commercial and that cultural content is increasingly shaping commodity production. One of the toughest policy challenges is to provide space for artistic, cultural and knowledge products that are not immediately marketable or to position socio-political arguments more deeply and forcefully in the field of public discussion that has largely been abandoned to economics.

The authors present recommendations at three levels: policy orientation and integration, information and communication, affirmative action programmes. Training and skills are important concerns in the cultural sector. A large share of company start-ups in the cultural sector in the cultural sector and in digital culture fail. In order to combat this phenomenon, specific measures focused on developing appropriate skills are required.

The study also notes a large share of EU citizens do not currently participate in the use of multimedia/ICT technology and in exploitating the job potential in digital culture. From a social perspective, it is primarily women, the unemployed and senior citizens who have no or insufficient access to products of digital culture. From a geographical viewpoint, EU citizens living in marginalised/peripheral regions (mostly rural and/or economically depressed) are disadvantaged in terms of availability of ICT infrastructure compared to urban dwellers.

Overall, the study demonstrates that digital culture represents an important generation of jobs when employment-oriented subsidy policies are implemented which focus on this sector of the labour market.

The findings of the study were presented on 25 June 2001 to representatives from the national labour market ministries and relevant Commission departments.

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31.10.2002 | office@kulturdokumentation.org