Little is known about the working context of performing arts professionals in Italian-speaking Switzerland. In research on the working conditions of performing and performing arts artists in Switzerland there is little data on Italian-speaking Switzerland, compared to the more extensive information available on French-speaking and German-speaking Switzerland. This partial knowledge of the professional sphere, linked to the presence of stereotypes and prejudices in the artistic sphere (e.g. the vision of the artist who becomes an artist by “vocation” and by exploiting “natural talents”), contributes to the lack of recognition of the professional activity of artists. This has concrete effects for those who want to work in the field, such as – among many others – the difficulty in obtaining a cachet or a salary worthy of a professional and/or the proposal to work illegally.
The pandemic crisis has further highlighted this fragile situation of artists. There are artists who have not been able to meet the requirements for access to support measures (according to the law on the promotion of culture and the Covid-culture ordinance) and social insurance, due to a lack of knowledge of the system of ordinary subsidies, extraordinary measures and social security, but also due to the characteristics of their work situation (intermittent and multi-activity work, low annual income), which do not meet the access criteria of social insurance, which is still based on the criterion of full-time work with an open-ended contract.
The research project is proposed by the research sector of the Accademia Dimitri, in collaboration with the DEASS-SUPSI Centre for Competence in Work, Welfare and Society and with the DEASS-SUPSI Centre for Competence in Practice and Health Policies, and aims to examine the profession and the life situation of stage artists (actresses and actors, dancers and circus artists, clowns…) active in Italian-speaking Switzerland.
The first important step is to obtain a mapping of the performing arts sector in Italian-speaking Switzerland, which is not fully known at present: this objective will be achieved thanks to the application of an innovative, non-probabilistic sampling plan called Respondent Driven Sampling RDS, which will make it possible to circumscribe the field and give it a definition that considers the vision of the artists. Thanks to the data obtained through RDS sampling, the intention is to give voice to professionals and to understand the characteristics of the profession and professional paths, with a focus on lesser-known typologies (such as physical theatre), examining the individual, structural and social conditions of artistic activity. In order to take a snapshot of the professional reality, data will be collected regarding the career path (e.g. degree of employment and its persistence and variability over time), status (independent/employed), types of contract stipulated, income, access to social insurance, ordinary and extraordinary subsidies, also bearing in mind the notion of professional identity.
Particular attention should be paid to the meaning given to the terms used by the interviewees, e.g. what does professional artist mean in the interviewee’s words? This aspect will be essential to bring out the dialectic between the professional identity defined by the persons interviewed, the stereotypes and prejudices related to the performing arts professions and the conditions provided by the legal bases, the social security system and the labour market.
The survey will make it possible to give a clearer and more detailed knowledge and visibility to artists on the scene in Italian-speaking Switzerland, thus fostering general public awareness. The pandemic crisis has shown how crucial it is to know and understand the characteristics and nuances of a profession, in order to provide quantitative and qualitative data useful for the dialogue between institutions and the art scene.
The knowledge of the professional reality resulting from the project will provide important data to professional and cultural promotion associations, as well as to all those working in the sector, and support them in the following tasks
The results achieved may also form the basis for a subsequent project addressing the issue of social security for artists from an intercantonal perspective.
Demis Quadri, Professor and Head of Research & Services : Project leader
Veronica Provenzale, reserchear : Project manager
Angela Calia, researcher
Centro competenze lavoro, welfare e società-DEASS
Spartaco Greppi, professore e responsabile del centro di competenza
Danuscia Tschudi, researcher senior
Centro competenze pratiche e politiche sanitarie-DEASS
Christine Butti, joint professor
Angela Lisi, senior lecturer/researcher