Qualifications and Changing Working Practises of Arts and Media Professionals

The ERICarts Institute is studying how the scope of artistic and media professions is broadening and how the borders between professional fields are becoming more translucent.   The results of its various studies show that artists and other professionals of the sector are simultaneously undertaking a wider range of functions or roles in two new very distinct capacities: artistic and non-artistic cultural management. These functions cut across the value chain of cultural production which can be institutionalised and non-institutionalised. In this context, either typical (employee) and/or non-typical (freelance) forms of employment are found and may even be relevant for one and the same person/individual professional. For example, professional artists can simultaneously be authors, directors, producers, teachers, mediators, administrators, sponsors, jurors, managers and consumers. Many are engaging more and more in interdisciplinary group and project work with professionals from different fields which means that they do not necessary follow a mapped out career path in a single professional domain.

Some years ago, the Institute has been investigating the processes of gate-keeping and how it relates to the development of a professional career in the cultural sector and to the definition of "success". The main types of gate-keepers under study have been: individuals (e.g. critics, curators and artistic directors), groups (e.g. evaluation committees) or platforms (e.g. media and their agendas). Together they have the power to determine the launching of individual artists or groups of artists into their careers and to support their continuing successes. They also acquire symbolic power over content production and distribution. In positions with creative influence in the "marketplace of ideas", they can control the gates which prevent or release a diversity of information, ideas, genres and styles. Gate-keepers also define the "criteria for excellence upon which the histories of art are written and which determine societies accepted construction of aesthetics which in turn sets the guidelines for achieving success".