AWI suggests system changes in the arts sector during and after the COVID-19 pandemic


Art Workers Italia (AWI), an Italian informal autonomous group, has released a manifesto calling to systemic changes in the Italian art scene, Artguide learnt from

The COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of cultural workers across Italy financially strained after all exhibitions have been cancelled in the past few months.

The authors of the manifesto address other key structural problems of the art world: exploitation of unpaid labour, the hyper-professionalisation of the art industry, the huge disparity of wealth and ethics between the financial interests supporting the arts and those of the arts workers themselves, and the relative lack of governmental and financial regulation.

One of the key problems is working without a contract. About 13.8% of Italy’s economy operates in a so-called “shadow economy”. Those lucky to get a contract work as independent contractors, which means they work part-time and do not have a stable salary. Independent contractors have problems receiving unemployment benefits and sick leave. Without government intervention, art workers are left without jobs, without pay, and without any way to survive the coming months.

AWI suggest measures to support art workers during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The measures include providing a benefit package, tax relief and a lower rent for cultural workers, as well as developing a policy offering art workers compensation for digital and online art production.

AWI’s long-term goals include measures to legally protect those working in the contemporary arts sector and measures to create legislation adjusted to the current situation in the arts sector.

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