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Studio Berlin III

IFSE presents the Study on the Situation of Artists in Berlin and the Gender Gap

 

The study is available for free download - please scroll down. 

The Institute for Strategy Development (IFSE), in cooperation with the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin (bbk berlin), publishes the results of its study on artists in Berlin. After New York, Berlin is the most important contemporary art production centre worldwide. Under what conditions do artists live in this city? The IFSE addresses this question concerning the situation of Berlin’s artists within the scope of this study. After the first study in 2011 with a focus on the increasing shortage of space for artistic practice in Berlin, the Gender Pay Gap in visual arts will now be highlighted.

The nationwide IFSE study on art galleries (2013) already showed that women are highly underrepresented in art galleries. This situation has hardly changed since: In the current study of artists in Germany's most important city of fine arts, the average number of solo exhibitions among men is 22% higher. This year's Gallery Weekend Berlin this weekend in Berlin with a "Gender Show Gap" of over 40% was no exception.

The so-called gender pay gap is 28% in the Berlin art world and thus above the general average of 21%. There is a hidden scandal behind this figure: The average amount of income from artistic work is just 9,600 euros a year, half of all artists earned less than 5,000 euros. While men earn 11,662 euros a year, women earn only 8,390 euros. Thus, the majority of artists rely on other sources of income. For 80% the artistic work is a loss business. Overall, only one in ten artists draws his entire annual income from the artistic work, 13% of men and 8% of women. The study also shows that 90% of the artists can not live on their pension later. The average expectation of the artists is € 357, with more than half of all artists expecting less than € 280. An alarming number.

Women are particularly affected by this precarious situation. Not only do they earn less than men. They have a greater share of parenting and when it comes to separation, in nine out of ten cases, the single parent is the mother. Here the art sector does not deviate from the national average. Under the already precarious conditions in art, this often means that children and career are mutually exclusive. Not surprisingly, half of the women postpone their desire to have children because of their job situation. The family situation affects the career development of women more than men. 70% of women and only 25% of men experience a disadvantage due to their family situation. As elsewhere, the still unequal social position of women in the field of art is reflected in the numbers that we have elevated to sexualized abuse of power. 31% of women and 9% of men have experienced sexual harassment in their professional environment. 

"Most of the numbers were expected, but I was alarmed by how low the pension expectancy of the artists actually is. Equally frightening are the experiences described by female artists regarding sexualized abuse of power" says study author Hergen Wöbken. It is time to overcome the discrimination of women, impending poverty in old age and the overall precarious situation of artists. Based on the results of the study, he hopes to engage in a dialogue on diverse approaches to improving the economic situation of artists, thereby reaffirming his demand for a Berlin development plan for contemporary art that develops and implements goals over a period of ten years. This development plan cannot and should not define contemporary art and its key players, but rather create the conditions and perspectives for fruitful developments.

Hergen Wöbken recommends his city to follow the New York example. Since 2017, New York City has published a first comprehensive cultural plan in the city's history. A group of artists and activists have submitted their own version of a cultural plan in response. Berlin is the world's most important production location for contemporary art after New York. The city must emphasize this cultural and economic factor more than in the past, says Wöbken. Acting without a properly considered plan is not wise. "We want to be prudent in dealing with the results and not rushing, neither in the evaluation nor in the question of the implications."

1,745 artists took part in the study, so that the representative results are suitable as a basis for cultural policy measures. The average age is 47 years. The participating artists have had about 3,200 solo exhibitions together in the last three years and participated in almost 10,000 group exhibitions, of which 40% each took place in Berlin.

The IFSE study was supported by Senate Department for Health, Long-Term Care and Gender Equality, the Equality Office, as well as boesner GmbH Berlin.