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Work Flows and Flexicurity

Canadian Cultural Labour in the Era of the Creative Economy

December 1, 20101 December 2010

Situation of artists

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A follow-up to a report on a potential policy framework for the creative labour force (From Economy to Ecology), this report argues that “the key to promoting the sector … is a framework that contains rules for creative labour processes and offers special protection as well as employment and income security to the creative work force”.

Acknowledging that “artists and cultural-creative workers manage complex work flows, interruptions, part-time contracts, transitions, and unpaid work” (which leads to a lack of income security), this report explores “new ideas for income security initiatives for flexible labour – a growing part of the new economy”.

A review of international policy measures to promote the creative sector uncovered four types of initiatives: education and training; awards and contests; business support; and tax and social security policies. The authors found many problems with these initiatives, including “a limited view of the cultural sector as a new generator of economic growth”, “largely uncoordinated and selective policy measures that are not part of a larger framework”, and an emphasis on “short-term training measures and business/entrepreneurial support”.

The authors argue that “social security and income security for the often precariously employed and only informally organized creative labour force are underdeveloped”. The report puts forth the idea of “flexicurity”, defined as “income security for self-employed or part-time workers”.

The framework advocated in the report includes a base of universal principles to guide policy-making, the coordination of policy-making for creative labour among various social, cultural and economic departments, as well as the development of policy strategies for creative labour. There are four different types of policy strategies outlined in the report: 1) “policies tailored to creative sub-sectors”; 2) “a sectoral or unique-circumstances approach to policy making”; 3) a creative economy approach that would emphasize the economic value of culture; and 4) “the classification of creative workers as one group of vulnerable or precarious workers”.

Some potential policy measures to support creative labour include workers’ compensation for performers, producer contributions to training funds for self-employed artists who work for them, full Employment Insurance for the self-employed, and “the establishment of a public or private ‘benefits bank'” that would provide benefits based on total hours worked in the creative sector across various engagements.

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