New UNESCO report on the implementation of 1980 Recommendation on Status of the Artist

While support for artists globally has improved over the last few years, with some nations reporting regulations and programmes for artists to benefit from new digital technology, many challenges still remain, a new report says. The report highlights the continued need for better social protection, and better market access and exposure for artists and their works globally.

The 2015 report to monitor progress of the implementation of the 1980 Recommendation Concerning the Status of the Artist, tracks the gains and pitfalls facing artists globally.

The 1980 Recommendation covers a wide range of issues which can affect the social and economic status of the artist and calls on Member States to improve the professional, social and economic status of artists through the implementation of policies and measures. These include training, social security, employment, income and tax conditions, mobility and freedom of expression. The Recommendation also recognizes the right of artists to be organized in trade unions or professional organizations that can represent and defend the interests of their members.

The 2015 report was compiled from a survey sent out to 195 countries which focused on  four significant contemporary issues, Digital technologies and the Internet, ease of travel for artists, social protection and freedom of expression.

These issues are addressed both in the Recommendation and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Sixty States responded to the survey and 87 %  of respondents reported that “the Recommendation is (or has been) a reference for ongoing policy development”. More than 50 percent reported it had been used as “the basis for changing one or more policies”.  

‘‘The report shows that artists globally, and particularly those in the developing world, are being given more recognition for their works, which are key contributions in building peaceful and sustainable societies. But it also highlights the fact that there is also a need for continued or increased support in the areas identified in the report to ensure meaningful progress in development,’’ Ms Danielle Cliche, Chief Section of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions & Secretary of the Convention of the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

Some countries are already leading the way in such efforts. Denmark’s “Right to Art and Culture – Strategic Framework for Culture and Development” adopted in 2013 underscores the key role of culture in development policies and international development assistance programmes.  It  stresses that ensuring freedom of expression for artists and cultural actors is essential to development of modern, democratic societies. Last month the French National Assembly adopted a law on artistic freedom, architecture and heritage. Article 1 of this new Law states that Artistic creation is free (La création artistique est libre).

Since the last monitoring report in 2011, several countries have shown solid commitment by adopting regulations geared toward improving the status of the artist, including Burkina Faso and Lithuania, and Morocco has built on its comprehensive law for better inclusion of artists.

The report recommends that Member States should continue to develop policies  benefiting of the collaboration with artists and their associations, as well as other relevant NGOs, to help ensure their laws and policies are as supportive as possible for professional artists.

The 2015 findings will be presented to the 197th session of the UNESCO Executive Board in October, and shared in the 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2015.

Extract concerning the transnational mobility of artists: "The survey reveals slow progress and continuing impediments to allow artists to travel freely to promote the flow of cultural goods. Since the 2011 report, Austria, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Republic of Moldova, Spain and Turkey reported on new regulations on artist mobility. The European Schengen area is currently considering the issue of facilitating access for artists, and the MERCOSUR (Latin America) ministers have agreed to implement a special artist visa. The majority of survey respondents said that  that public programmes were in place to support their artists working abroad."

Click here for the report