Radical media, politics and culture.

Intermittents Appeal: Art Without Artists is Democracy Without a Voice

hydrarchist submits:
Whilst I find aspects of this appeal problematic, the intermittents struggle has been extremely innovative and represents the first organising wave in this sector in some time.

"Art Without Artists is Democracy Without a Voice"

Appeal from the "Coordination des Intermittents et Précaires d' Ile de France"- Europe Commission

What is happening in France?

Demonstrations, strikes, the interruption of film shootings, cancellations of shows and festivals : since June 26th, an unheard-of mobilization has been seriously disturbing the French cultural scene. Artistic professionals have spontaneously united in coordinated actions to mark their opposition to a reform of their special unemployment status, initially created in 1936. Based on an inter-professional solidarity, this status takes into account the very specific nature of stage and audiovisual spheres, i.e.discontinuity and flexibility of work. It gives artists a wage supplement which is not a privilege : 50% of these flexible artistic workers in France earn less than the minimum wage (SMIC). This reform, initiated by the MEDEF (French Employers' Union), now awaiting legal agreement by the French government, renders the whole system null and will be very likely to result in a rapid impoverishment of the professionals working in all cultural spheres in France. The current social protection supports artistic creation and research, the evolution of which cannot be seen solely in terms of economics.

What is happening in Europe?

At a time when Switzerland has decided on a social protection for its artists (July 1st 2003), Belgium has improved its unemployment system (July 2003) and Luxembourg and the Netherlands have validated theirs... France is drawing back and yielding to the WTO (World Trade Organization, which has now more than 145 members). The calendar of social reforms in France was rushed through so that it could coincide with the WTO's agenda in the G.A.T.S (General Agreement on Trade in Services). These multilateral agreements will offer public services in culture, health, research and education to the open market. In the European Constitution project, the European Commissioner in charge of trade, Pascal Lamy has offered to suppress, for the cultural field, the principle of unanimous voting (which allows a veto) in favour of a qualified majority*. Without the right of veto for European Union countries, the cultural field will slowly move towards free trade, toward irreparable loss of cultural diversity.

* 2/3 of UE deputies representativeness.

Europe in the projects of the WTO

The shortness of time available before the next WTO meeting (Cancun,sept 14),makes an efficient counter-attack more difficult. There has been an excessive degree of secrecy : the copies of the liberalisation/privatisation projects, recommended by Committee 133**, have not been communicated to European and National elected public figures. A democratic dialogue has not been considered and this agreement has no legal basis. According to Mr Lamy, "one can not deal one's best cards to those one will be negotiating with "European propositions for the liberalisation/privatisation will be made public once they have been deposited at the WTO"... Once it's too late ? The WTO and the European Union : just one negotiator and only one aim : the possibility of offering up cultural and public spheres to the open market. In the long run these areas of activities will no longer benefit from any legal or governmental protection.

** Association of governmental and private enterprises experts

1994-2004 : 10 years

It is high time for a European movement to promote cultural diversity. "Cultural exception" could be a common cause : we need to defend artists and artistic technicians (our professional status...) as much as cultural projects (funding principles...).


For concerted debates with all interested parties in order to elaborate an adequate social protection system for artists and artistic technicians in all European countries
For the first articles of the European Constitution to register a common political will to promote cultural diversity and sustainable development for artistic creation.
For a re-evaluation of the European Commissioner's mandate and suspension of all negotiations within the WTO until offers and demands have been democratically debated
For culture and public services to be definitively excluded from all agreements decided within the WTO. Art, intellectual creation, cultural and linguistic identity, social solidarity, education and health are not saleable goods
For the promotion of cultural diversity and the right to culture for all in the Charter for Fundamental Rights.
For the unconditional withdrawal of the draft decided on June 26th 2003 about this specific unemployment system concerning artists and artistic technicians working in France


- Transmit this appeal widely in order to initiate multiple actions

- Open debates and forums during artistic events (festivals...)

- Initiate or collaborate in artistic events in your country or in France (why not together and simultaneously ?) to support this action : concerts, shows, screenings...)

- Join the E.S.F. (European Social Forum) scheduled in Paris at the beginning of November 2003

- Send us concrete examples and testimonies and analysis of your cultural situation, newspaper clippings and other texts about the danger of our situation and its evolution

- Lobby your political networks, European medias... (send us information about your actions and your contacts)

- Aim for a common protection system for artists and artistic technicians at a European level : legal actions, debates, search for formal contradictions in the system (ie : GATS)

Be concrete in your answers, we'll keep you posted on our actions : let's unite and make Europe a work of art !

La coordination des intermittents et précaires d'Ile de France - Commission Europe Site de la coordination :

Mail : contacteurope@no-log.org"