Art and Education: resisting to labour exploitation, promoting sustainability
15th Organization Studies Virtual Workshop
Artistic work has been professionalised in contemporary societies but is mainly characterised by precariousness and uncertainty (Menger, 2003; Tinius, 2015), which calls for a discussion on the alternative ways that artists have been organising in order to do their work in a sustainable way. One sphere of action has been the provision of artistic education, as a way of diversifying artists functions and a resource for the sustainability of artistic work. Our approach is based on an ongoing arts education project with a set of schools in Portugal called “Seven Years, Seven Schools”, which is in turn based on the “Seven Years, Seven Plays” artistic project by Portuguese performing artist Cláudia Dias. The project is a political statement in face of the recent economic crisis, when the artist sustained that she, as artist and worker, facing an economic crisis, would develop not a short-term but a long-term project during seven years. The arts education project “Seven Years, Seven Schools” is supported by a promoting organization, responsible for the logistic support – “Alkantara” and is funded by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s sustainable development programme PARTIS. The need to have an evaluation of the project from the social inclusion perspective led to the participation of A3S, a non-profit-organization devoted to Research and Development (R&D). A3S develops the activities on a project-based structure, sustained on a participatory model (Ferraro, Etzion & Gehman, 2015), where temporary contacts and uncertainty of work (and income) is also a reality to deal with, as it is the artist and even the project promoters’ situation. The article develops the following argument: artistic projects, framed by precarious, flexible and uncertain forms of work and organization, take part in the quest for alternative models for organizing sustainably. Our case study develops a collaborative approach in the co-construction of the arts education project, with a complex matrix of social – collective and individual – actors: institutions, organic and flexible organizations, teachers, students, artists, researchers, etc., shedding light on the challenges posed to alternative forms of organization.