Berlin artists face poverty and a gender pay gap of 28 percent, according to a new survey.

Benjamin Sutton
Aug 16, 2018 3:24PM, via The Art Newspaper

A survey of 1,745 artists based in Berlin found that the city’s famously rich art scene runs on those who make just €9,600 ($10,900) a year from their work. The survey, conducted by the Institute for Strategy Development (IFSE) in cooperation with the Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin, found a major gender gap in the city’s artist community, with male artists having 22 percent more solo exhibitions and earning 28 percent more from their art—significantly higher than Germany’s national average of 21 percent—with an average annual income of €11,662 ($13,200) compared to just €8,390 ($9,500) per year for women artists. The survey also looked at artists’ pensions, finding that 90 percent of artists will not be able to live off theirs in later years and will face poverty as they age.

“Most of the numbers were expected, but I was alarmed by how low the pension expectancy of the artists actually is,” said Hergen Wöbken, the author of the study and founding director of IFSE. “Equally frightening are the experiences described by female artists regarding sexualized abuse of power.”

Among artists who responded to the survey, 31 percent of women reported having experienced incidents of sexual harassment in their work environment, while the figure for male artists was 9 percent. In 95 percent of cases, the person committing the harassment was a man; people being harassed only made their abuse known in 7.5 percent of cases.

The survey concludes by calling for the development of a municipal cultural plan similar to that recently created by New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs to help guide policy decisions that affect Berlin’s estimated 8,000 artists.

Benjamin Sutton
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