A crisis of sustainable careers? Examining working conditions for independent arts and cultural workers

IFACCA - International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies,
15 September 2022, International


Prepared between January and September 2022, A crisis of sustainable careers? explores key issues related to the precarious working conditions of artists and independent workers in the cultural and creative sectors (CCSs), including the role public agencies currently play and how could they further strengthen these conditions. This public report is a part of IFACCA’s Sustainable Futures series and is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria (an IFACCA Affiliate Member).

A crisis of sustainable careers? was prepared with a team of expert authors – Laurence Cuny, Xin Gu, Martin Inthamoussú and Ammar Kessab – who each explore various social and economic aspects of working conditions in the CCSs, including but not limited to, barriers to entry, salary standards, social protections, access to finance, taxation, training, wellbeing and legislation; highlight case studies; and identify challenges and opportunities for change. This report also draws upon existing literature, inputs from IFACCA National Members as well as 153 artists and cultural workers who participated in a public survey.

While concerns related to the working conditions of artists and independent workers in the creative and cultural sectors (CCSs) pre-date COVID-19, the pandemic has exposed their true precarity. The report presents us with an opportunity to consider how to address and improve these conditions as we rebuild and reform.

The report is available in English and Spanish.


About the authors

Laurence Cuny (France) is a human rights lawyer and researcher specialised in cultural rights and artistic freedom. As a member of the UNESCO Expert Facility on the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Laurence authored the report Freedom & Creativity: Defending Art, Defending Diversity (2020). Other recent publications include Rights: International, regional and national legal frameworks for the protection of artistic freedom (2019) and Relocating Artists at Risk in Latin America (2021). She is a member of the UNESCO Chair on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions at Laval University, Faculty of Law in Quebec and an Associate Member of the Fribourg Observatory of Diversity and Cultural Rights in Switzerland.

Dr Xin Gu (Australia) is a member of the UNESCO Expert Facility on the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2019-2022). Xin was director of the Master of Cultural and Creative Industries (MCCI) at Monash University in Australia (2018-2019). Her current research concerns the digital creative economy and the democratisation of creative knowledge. Xin is author of the essay The Next Normal: Chinese indie music in a post-COVID China (2021). Her recent books include Red Creatives (2020) and Re-imagining Creative Cities in Twenty-First Century Asia (2020). 

Martin Inthamoussú (Uruguay) currently works as a consultant in creative economy for the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington DC, USA.  Between 2013 and 2022, Martin worked for SODRE, the oldest public cultural institution in Uruguay dedicated to artistic education, arts promotion, audience development, the development of traditions and the pursuit of artistic excellence. Martin was the President and CEO of SODRE until June 2022. He is a member of the Governance Committee of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) and a fellow of the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, USA.

Dr Ammar Kessab (Algeria) is Principal Regional Governance Coordinator at the African Development Bank (AfDB). He has spent more than 10 years managing a portfolio of governance projects in Central, West and North Africa, and leading the appraisal, structuring and execution of governance and public reforms operations in 16 African countries. He is a member of the Board of the African Culture Fund (ACF) and a founding member of the Trans-Saharan Artistic Mobility Fund (TSAMF). He holds a PhD in management from Angers University, France and a Master’s Degree in Governance from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom.

Read the public report