Artists in the spotlight! In search of new agendas for education and research in the cultural management and policy field


Artists’ work is unique in its essence, and so are the challenges they face in the so-called “new normal” ahead for the sector. Furthermore, the effects of COVID-19 crisis on the artists have an impact at the institutional and organisational levels too. By way of example, the (post-)lockdown measures forced artists to learn and adapt, mostly to the digital environment. But this entailed a challenge for cultural managers too, who were forced to learn how to mediate between artists and audiences in this new context. Focusing on artists does not mean to exclude other elements and actors of the wider cultural and creative ecosystem, but aims to put the spotlight on its core: the point where the creative process takes place.

As a network of cultural management and policy educators and researchers, and acknowledging the work of artists as the core element in the sector, with its 2021 Digital Congress ENCATC aims to provide a space for reflection on the implications for cultural management and policy education and research of the situation of artists with regard to the current, multi-dimensional crisis, and before the scenario(s) ahead, considering not only the health crisis, but also other dimensions of the current context, such as climate change, societal changes, etc. A comprehensive view on the issue is proposed, which considers not only the status of the artist in terms of professionalization, standards, etc., but also encourages an examination of the roles assigned to artists in society and the territory in the forthcoming scenarios, which will be tackled through different questions below and formats.

A report published in January 2021 advocates for the “use [of] the CCIs – and the multiplied power of their millions of individual and collective talents – as a major accelerator of social, societal and environmental transitions in Europe” (EY, 2021). This track aims to explore how artists can be agents of cross-sectoral innovation, which might be key in the process of recovery and transition into new scenarios. Therefore, this track suggests looking beyond the CCS and examine the role of artists in recovery for the wider society, as well as the role of cultural managers and policymakers to facilitate these processes, and the implications this may have at an educational level.

Linked to the previous track, we dive into the role of cultural professionals, managers and producers in applying in practice the sustainability values (not limited only to climate change issues or SDG topics, but also including other ethical dimensions, as well as regarding circular economy) in the work with artists and with cultural organisations that employ artists at their very centre.

The need for a new agenda for cultural policy has been brought to the table since almost the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak (Bonet, 2020). A reflection on what has been done at a policy level to support artists and reframe their working conditions and social security in the current context is proposed in this track, which would also welcome policy recommendations for the shaping of a new agenda for cultural policy.

Some pandemic conjunctural works have stressed how education can contribute a more sustainable and democratic post-pandemic future (Council of Europe, 2021). In this track we are interested in learning from experience and reflecting on how a new agenda for research and education in cultural management and policy could look like in the new scenario(s), as well as on what the role of the artist could be in this new agenda.

In the above-mentioned research commissioned by the EP, it is noted that “the crisis has highlighted the very vulnerable position of many non-standard workers in the CCS, such as artists, freelancers or temporary workers” (De Voldere et al., 2021). It is not only important to give a response to this situation that goes beyond to emergency measures, but also to include the viewpoint of the artist in these debates. This track focuses on artists’ needs and demands, acknowledging how the sector as a whole reacts and is impacted by artists’ vulnerable positions.

Artists and the wider CCS have implemented from major adaptation to cope with the current crisis, in terms of formats – at the level of artistic production and delivery, with performing arts and festivals faced with the worst version of the pandemic effect – , but also in terms of organisational and business models. It would be interesting to explore what will remain of the changes introduced, and how this may impact cultural management and policy education programmes.