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a public conversation

  CCA 5
  Tue 9th Nov 2010

Art+Labour is a public conversation exploring the conditions and experiences of creative labour in the cultural industries - working conditions, pay, working hours; freedom and autonomy, pleasure and obligation; insecurity and uncertainty; social reproduction, networking and isolation - and artists' organising within it - unions, artists' associations, or self-organised studio/exhibition spaces.

What diverse forms of employment do artists undertake? Who are their employees? How secure and how flexible are these forms of employment? What are the conditions of employment and how are these changing? What can we say of artists' autonomy in relation to contemporary labour practices? How do cultural workers effectively organise around labour issues? What would it mean for artists to withdraw their labour in defence of conditions in one's primary or secondary employment? With successive governments' emphasis on arts' social function, how does communality express itself in competitive Creative Industries? What is industrial about the Creative Industries; where do 'Cultural' producers sit within the policy frame of the 'Creative' Industries? How do we as cultural producers recognise our own positions and dependency on/within/alongside the public sector? With the entrepreneurial restructuring of the arts in Scotland and in the face of selective public sector cuts throughout the UK, how constructive are artists' isolated appeals for a state of exception? What is so unique about artists in the social factory?

These are some of the questions to be addressed during this public conversation. The discussion is open to anyone - cultural workers, artists, students, interns, precarious and self-organised labour affiliated to academia - concerned with issues of art, labour and economics. The event will begin with a series of short position statements from invited speakers followed by discussion among panelists and audience. 

Panelists include:

Angela McRobbie
Professor of Communications, Dept. of Media & Communications, Goldsmiths

Scottish Artists Union
The representative voice for artists in Scotland

Graham Jeffery
Reader: Music and Performance, The School of Creative and Cultural Industries, UWS

Katarzyna Kosmala
Reader, Centre for Contemporary European Studies, UWS

Gesa Helms
Researcher & artist

Brett Bloom
Member of Chicago-based art collective Temporary Services who recently produced 'Art Work : A national conversation about art, labour, and economics'

Owen Logan
Researcher, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen

Facilitated by Gordon Asher 
Effective Learning Tutor, UWS Centre for Academic & Professional Development

Event is free but ticketed, tickets available from CCA Box Office:
CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD
tel : +44 (0)141 352 4900

"MASHING UP" : Art+Labour is organised by Leigh French, co-editor of Variant, and Sophie Hope, member of Making A Living, in co-operation with Graham Jeffery of The School of Creative and Cultural Industries, University of the West of Scotland, and supported by CCA, Glasgow.

download flyer PDF
A Public Lecture Series presented by UWS and CCA
This ongoing lecture series stimulates critical, transdisciplinary research communities to discuss advanced knowledge and to build networks of excellence among producer communities.
‘Mashing up’ [definition]
"a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service. The term mashup implies easy, fast produce results that were not the original reason for producing the raw source data" (Wikipedia, 2009).
The lecture series
 exhibits the values of new media culture to explore synergies between institutions, ideas and disciplines. This aspiration originates with the UWS and CCA partnership, which extends to the specific areas of inquiry that we pursue. It advances the core mission of each organization to initiate applied, international research opportunities through experimental, local dialogue to foster collaborative, bottom-up, sustainable practices of development.
We want attendees to blog, photograph, film, tweet and do all they can to share the content of these talks to democratize access to knowledge.





'Clubs to companies: notes on the decline of political culture in speeded up creative worlds', by Angela McRobbie
download as PDF

‘A very complicated version of freedom’: Conditions and experiences of creative labour in three cultural industries, by David Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Baker
download as PDF

How labour is (Part of) the Problem in Building the Left.
Lecture by: Professor Frances Fox Piven, CUNY Graduate Center, Toronto, October 15, 2010.

Keep on Smiling - questions on immaterial labour, Aufheben #14 (2006)

Doodley-doo? Doodley don’t! Life and Sabotage, by Gesa Helms


"MASHING UP" : Art+Labour is complemented by the LOANS & INTERNSHIPS WORKSHOP:


  Tue 9th Nov 2010
  10.30am - noon

Sophie Hope & Leigh French
examine the Case Studies:

download flyer PDF

- Loans for Arts Organisations, Catalonia
- Carrotworkers' Collective, London

The Catalan Department of Creative Industries was under investigation for their calamity over the introduction of loans for arts organisations. "We conceived the refundable contribution [credit / loans] system as a way to have financial participation in market driven cultural projects and, therefore, be subject to enterprise risk. We tried to introduce a risk culture into a sector that used to function through public subsidies" (Director, Catalan Department of Creative Industries).

The Carrot Workers’ Collective is “a London-based group of students, pre, current and ex-interns, cultural workers, teachers and researchers who regularly meet to think and organise around  free labour. The Carrot Workers use popular research methods to understand how free labour influences the material conditions, subjectivities,aspirations and desires of those who work for free and how these relate to shifting social, educational and economic policies.”

Event is free but ticketed, tickets available from CCA Box Office:
CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow G2 3JD
tel : +44 (0)141 352 4900


mini bookstall by


Loans for Arts Organisations, Catalonia
The Catalan Department of Creative Industries was under investigation for their calamity over the introduction of loans for arts organisations. Here are three translated articles regarding the problems the Department was having getting the money back it distributed in the form of repayable credit/ loans, and trying to reconceptualize the loans back into subsidies.
download PDF

Credit Markets - micro-finance : the individualistic focus of development intervention
download PDF / PowerPoint

Art +Labour Links

After the Crunch

Artists, entrepreneurs, commentators, analysts, policy-makers, policy-sceptics, academics, financiers – and citizens – set out their hopes and fears for the future

AIR - Road map to artists' representation

After four years of development and membership programmes, AIR has completed research to launch a modern, timely infrastructure for representation. A selection of AIR members discuss what representation will look and feel like for artists, and suggest campaigns that AIR should prioritise.

Art Work. A National Conversation about Art, Labour, and Economics (Temporary Services)

Art Work is a newspaper and accompanying website that consists of writings and images from artists, activists, writers, critics, and others on the topic of working within depressed economies and how that impacts artistic process, compensation and artistic property.

Artquest’s report on the funding and finance needs of artists

In March 2009 Artquest asked its newsletter subscribers to tell them their experiences of funding and finance - where they get income, what they spend money on, and their general attitudes to loans, grants and other forms of income generation.’

Carrot Workers Collective

The Carrot Workers’ Collective is a London-based group of students, pre, current and ex-interns, cultural workers, teachers and researchers who regularly meet to think and organise around  free labour.  The Carrot Workers use popular research methods to understand how free labour influences the material conditions, subjectivities,aspirations and desires of those who work for free and how these relate to shifting social, educational and economic policies.

Code of Practice for Graduate Internships in the Creative Industries

Skillset, who describe themselves as 'the industry body which supports skills and training for people and businesses to ensure the UK creative industries maintain their world class position', have published a code of practice for Graduate Internships in the Creative Industries.

The code recommends that: 

As the individual will be performing as a ‘worker,’ they should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage throughout the duration of their placement.


The Free/Slow University of Warsaw’s online journal on ‘culture not for profit’ and free education.


An international collective of artists, theorists, designers, architects and engineers.

Education Actualized

E-flux’s Journal (#14) on education edited by Irit Rogoff

Emerging Workers Report by The Arts Group

The Arts Group is calling for legislation governing the practice of work experience, internships and placements. In its “Emerging Workers” document the Arts Group puts forward the case that Government action is needed in order to protect students and graduates in the arts and creative industries.

Emily Speed’s ‘Getting Paid’ Blog

Emily Speed explores some of the issues facing artists trying to make a living out of the business of art.

Free School

An occasional post-education group of artists and academics based in London.

Immaterial labour and creative economy seminar series

The Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Ireland’s 'after the economy' series, which examined the development of an economy of immaterial labour and how this correlates with current arguments relating to creativity, cultural value and economic development.


A youth-led social enterprise passionate about changing the culture of internships for the better in the UK. We work with organisations to support and accredit internship programmes, and with young people to break down the barriers they face in getting an internship.

Islington Mill Art Academy

A free self-organised art school based in Manchester, UK set up in 2007 by a group of art foundation students, dissatisfied with the quality and standards in University fine art courses open to them at that time.


LITTORAL is a non-profit arts trust which promotes new creative partnerships, critical art practices and cultural strategies in response to issues about social, environmental and economic change.

Making a living as an artist by Debra Savage and a-n The Artists Information Company

Download a-n’s research papers, include Debra Savage’s 2006 paper, ‘Making a living as an artist’.

New Deal of the Mind

New Deal of the Mind is a coalition of artists, entrepreneurs and opinion formers who recognise the economic, social and cultural value of Britain’s creative talent.

New Work Network

New Work Network (NWN) supports the development of new performance, live and interdisciplinary arts practices by nurturing arts practitioners through the creation of innovative professional development activities that focus on networking, exchange and collaboration across the UK and internationally.

Position Unpaid

An investigation of internships in the arts by two artists: Natasha Vicars and Emma Leach.

Q-Art London

A forum for students and graduates from across London's art colleges as well as anyone else with an interest in art. Runs regular crits, gallery tours, panel discussions and an end of year exhibition. Currently 2000 members strong.

Rights for Interns

The TUC has produced a website with advice and guidance for interns

Scottish Artists’ Union

The pre-eminent representative voice for visual and applied artists in Scotland, and the only trade union of its kind in the United Kingdom, the SAU is a vitally needed presence in the new political landscape of the country. As Scotland’s devolved parliament continues to prioritise culture, the SAU’s role becomes ever more important.

The Independent Art School (IAS)

IAS has been setting up meetings for artists since 1999. It functions as an alternative University with no home.

The Visual Arts Blueprint

A workforce development plan for the visual arts sector in the UK, was launched in November 2009. It lays out a series of recommendations and proposed actions to tackle the skills needs of the visual arts sector.

Trade Union

A project by Sophie Mellor and Karen Di Franco that looks to devise strategies to circumvent increasingly institutionalised structures - embracing the here and now of geographical and social locality, not in opposition to the global, but as a way of sustainable and fleet footed mobility.


The free arts and culture magazine.
In-depth coverage in the context of broader social, political & cultural issues

Why Interns Need a Fair Wage, IPPR report

This briefing paper, by ippr and Internocracy, examines the role and nature of unpaid internships in the UK. We argue that the informal system of unpaid internships operating in many of our most exciting and influential industries actively excludes young people who come from less well-off families. We propose a gradual phasing out of unpaid internships and discuss some options for ensuring that more young people have access to paid internship opportunities.