Alexandros Baltzis, Nikolaos Tsigilis

The Industrialization of Creativity and its Limits: Value, Self-expression and the Economy of Culture in Times of Crisis
International conference
National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow
(St. Petersburg Branch and Faculty of Communication, Media and Design)
St. Petersburg, June 23-24, 2017



The paper presents some results of an original survey in a sample of 591 visual artists in Greece, focusing on their living and working conditions. This sample represents 10% of the total members of the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece (margin of error ±3.82%, 95% confidence interval). The questionnaire includes over 250 variables embracing a wide range of issues, including standard indicators of material deprivation, as well as questions comparing the situation before and after the introduction of the austerity programmes. The research was carried out in collaboration with the Thessaloniki Center of Contemporary Art of the State Museum of Contemporary Art and supported by the Chamber of Fine Arts of Greece. Technical support was provided by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. This survey is the first of its kind carried out in the country. The survey is part of a wider attempt to study cultural work in Greece and it is based on previous exploratory study with focus groups about the working conditions of visual artists and film makers (see Baltzis & Pantazis, 2016).

The paper outlines the occupational profile of the visual artists in Greece which does not differ significantly from that described in the case of other countries, studied for example by Ball, Pollard, & Stanley, Benhamou, Heinich, Hesmondhalgh, Menger, and others. It focuses, however, on the contrast before and after 2012, the year when the effects of the austerity policies became evident in Greece. The respondents compared the situation before and after 2012 considering 16 indicators of a wide variety of aspects related with the working conditions of the visual artists. Only 2%-10% of the respondents answered that the conditions have improved, depending on the indicator. The analysis showed significant difference between the two periods and only 7.4% of the respondents expressed high and very high degree of optimism about the future of the visual arts in Greece. The differentiation of the answers to the 16 indicators were analyzed considering the high rates of material deprivation found among participants, the income levels and the variables detecting whether they work in a second occupation.

The findings outline some of the negative effects of the austerity policies not only on how the visual artists experience the current conditions, but also on the future of the cultural work in Greece. And the latter is not perceived to be very bright.