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Creative Workers in Permanent Crisis: Labor in the Croatia’s Contemporary Arts and Culture

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Abstract

Work in Croatia’s independent cultural sector demands a specific type of individual. A typical worker is female, lives and works in the capital, Zagreb, and is mostly paid by honoraria. She is well educated and has well-educated parents that provide her with the safety net. She is burned out, but overall, she is satisfied with her position and life. She is also middle aged, single, and in most cases childless with only a few younger collaborators who are working with her. As an independent cultural worker, she is in a state of permanent crisis created by broader structural socioeconomic conditions in Croatia. These conditions do not encourage viable and sustainable cultural production, especially independent cultural production and especially in communities outside the capital. In order to work in such an unstable environment, independent cultural workers must be persistent, resourceful, multitalented, loyal to their profession, well embedded in the community, and privileged with a family that can function as a safety net. In short, to work precariously in this sector, one must belong to the elite, as only the elite can afford to work precariously.

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Elite
  • Independent cultural sector
  • Inequalities
  • Precarious work

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In October 2018, the general unemployment rate was 9.1%, while the youth unemployment rate was 23%. Since 2008, more than 200,000 people have emigrated from Croatia (www.dzs.hr, November 16, 2018).

  2. 2.

    After the successful lobbying and policy advocacy activities of several civil society organizations, the Croatian government established the Kultura Nova Foundation in 2011 with the aim to financially support cultural civil society organizations in the fields of contemporary arts and culture. Kultura Nova does not finance institutionally funded organizations that enjoy national and/or local state subsidies. Rather, it is solely intended for noninstitutional arts and culture. While the Ministry of Culture oversees Kultura Nova, its calls for financing proposals are independent, although its budget comes from the State Treasury, namely from the National Lottery. This setup makes the Croatian model of financing independent culture and arts rather unique in the European context. According to the Kultura Nova’s website, “[it] is an additional measure within the Croatian system of financing culture that contributes to the stabilization and development of civil society organizations in the fields of contemporary arts and culture.” (http://kulturanova.hr/english, 20 November 2018).

  3. 3.

    This study was funded by the Kultura Nova Foundation. However, this chapter reflects the views of the authors, and the Kultura Nova Foundation cannot be held responsible for any use of the information contained herein.

  4. 4.

    LimeSurvey is an open-source survey tool available at: http://www.limesurvey.org

  5. 5.

    It will later be shown that even ongoing and long-lasting volunteering is seen as work in this sector.

  6. 6.

    The questionnaires were answered anonymously, and none of the personal identifiers of the respondents were saved.

  7. 7.

    Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Pula, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Karlovac, Vukovar, and Vinkovci.

  8. 8.

    We use a working and vernacular definition of “elite” in a reductive and normative way. In comparison to the general population, our research sample represents the elite in terms of their educational attainments and family backgrounds, meaning that their parents were mostly clerks and low- to mid-level managers, not manual workers. Also, our research sample, unlike most of the Croatian labor force, does not work in the low-paid service sector but in self-employed, self-managed positions. See the section on socioeconomic differences for more.

  9. 9.

    As Croatia’s capital, Zagreb is home to more than a quarter of the country’s population. It also accounts for more than a third of Croatia’s gross domestic product and has an index of 174.8 of gross domestic product per capita compared to Croatia as a whole (data for 2016, Croatian Economic Chamber).

  10. 10.

    The difference between the two results was not significant (p < 0.01: χ2 [2, N = 228] = 1.62, p = 0.20). www.hgk.hr/documentswww.hgk.hr/documentswww.hgk.hr/documentswww.hgk.hr/documents

  11. 11.

    The average monthly net wage in Croatia at the time of the survey in July 2015 amounted to 5716 HRK (approx. 747 EUR) (brutto salary HRK 7953 amounts to approx. EUR 1039).

  12. 12.

    CBI is tested in different cultures and settings with balanced results (Fong et al. 2014; Milfont et al. 2008; Molinero Ruiz et al. 2013; Parr et al. 2016; Yeh et al. 2007). The instrument’s scoring ranges from 0 to 100 on a five-degree Likert-type scale. In our research, Cronbach’s alpha for CBI was high for all the individual sub-dimensions as well for all of them combined. For CBI-PB, Cronbach’s alpha was 0.88; for CBI-WB, it was 0.89; for CBI-CB, it was 0.88; and for the entire inventory, it was 0.93. When the score of a subdimension is equal or above 50 (M ≥ 50), burnout is high, and when it is lower than 50 (M < 50), burnout is low (Borritz et al. 2006: 101).

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Primorac, J., Barada, V., Buršić, E. (2020). Creative Workers in Permanent Crisis: Labor in the Croatia’s Contemporary Arts and Culture. In: Kiriya, I., Kompatsiaris, P., Mylonas, Y. (eds) The Industrialization of Creativity and Its Limits. Science, Technology and Innovation Studies. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-53164-5_3

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