This coronavirus emergency, together with the consequent economic crisis, has exposed Italy’s weaknesses. In addition to health and work, it has brought up the problems of a system that is already fragile and little considered by politics: that of the Art Workers. Underpaid professionals, forced to discontinuous jobs, not in order, often with absurd hours, which have been almost completely abandoned since March (almost, because fortunately someone has received state bonuses).
The main problem is that this category is not recognized and regularized: if you are an architect or an engineer you have a professional order and therefore you are registered in a register, if you are an artist or a designer you are not.
In the face of this situation, a spontaneous movement started from March 2020, called “from below”, called AWI – ART WORKERS ITALIA, which aims to oppose all forms of exploitation and deregulation, making concrete proposals.
AWI we read, is an “informal, autonomous and non-partisan group of workers of contemporary arts, trained on a participatory basis”
The initiative started from a Facebook group and already has over 2,000 members. On the symbolic date of May 1, 2020 AWI launched its website containing the manifesto and the principles that govern the group. contenente il manifesto e i principi che regolano il gruppo.
Says the Manifesto “We are [ART WORKERS]: artists, performers, curators, assistant curators,researchers, museum educators, art handlers, producers, lighting andsound technicians, registrars, videomakers, art critics, art writers, arthistorians, invigilators, couriers, gallery assistants, project managers,consultants, coordinators, conservators, graphic designers, illustrators,photographers, animators, studio assistants, communication and socialmedia managers, and press office staff”
…”The criticality of the situation, amplified by the increase in demand forunpaid digital content during the quarantine by public and private entities,has clearly revealed several [STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS] of the sector. The majorityof our work is [IRREGULAR] and [FRAGMENTED], defined by atypical andintermittent contracts, creating an [UNTENABLE] working situation.Furthermore, the lack of protective entities specific to our needs weakensthe bargaining power at our disposal. Together with the fact that ourwages often neither adequately compensate for the hours and quality ofwork done, nor the training and experience required, these conditionsrender our current working circumstances extremely [VULNERABLE].”
…”Contemporary art workers operate at all levels of national andinternational cultural production, in both breadth and depth. Collectively,the sector does not only impact the [SOCIAL COHESION] of a community but alsoits [INTELLECTUAL AND CIVIC GROWTH], carrying significant economic repercussionsacross the country.This manifesto represents the first step away from an unjustifiable and3unacceptable condition of [INVISIBILITY], towards the goal of full civil andpolitical recognition that takes into account the fundamental role, and itsspecificities, that contemporary art professionals occupy within the largersphere of local and global cultural production.”