Policy review: social security for cultural practitioners

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Policy review: social security for cultural practitioners

Man on stage dancing and learning backwards
© Vogue Ball. Contact Theatre. Photo: Drew Forsyth

By Rachel Johnson, Centre for Cultural Value


This policy review looks at social security support for cultural practitioners and how effective these schemes were during the Covid-19 pandemic. The review covers Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, Canada and the United Kingdom and outlines different national approaches, emerging evidence and the need for further research in this area.

The report identifies a spectrum of support that ranges from fully targeted schemes for artists to the inclusion of cultural practitioners in more generalised schemes. It also considers Universal Basic Income (UBI), a form of income support that has gained increasing attention from policymakers globally.

The review did not find a best model of social security for artists, but identified three possible approaches, which need to be evaluated in greater depth:

  1. Covering cultural practitioners under existing social security schemes for self-employed and freelance workers
  2. Targeting cultural practitioners through separate social security schemes
  3. Covering cultural practitioners under UBI or UBI-style schemes.

The review raises a number of challenges that need robust research to inform future policymaking in this area:

  • Whether generic social security schemes for self-employed and freelance workers adequately consider the specific employment conditions of cultural practitioners
  • If and how targeted social security schemes for artists or cultural practitioners ensure greater and more equitable coverage.
  • If UBI, while guaranteeing universal coverage, would result in an increase or decrease in social protections for cultural practitioners in comparison with existing social security schemes.
Published: 2020
Resource type: Research