Published: Production networks in the cultural and creative sector: case studies from the visual arts industry

The CICERONE project consists of seven work packages (WPs). This report is part of WP2, which constitutes the empirical backbone of CICERONE. It contains case study research that focuses on networked production in eight cultural and creative industries: 1) architecture, 2) archives (including libraries and cultural heritage), 3) artistic crafts, 4) audio-visual media (film, TV, videogames, multimedia) and radio, 5) design, 6) festivals, as well as performing and visual arts, 7) music and, 8) publishing.  The purpose of the case study research is to understand key linkages and mechanisms in real-life CCS production networks and their relationships to context-dependent variables.

Drawing on the case study research, the CICERONE project explores policies that may contribute to enhancing the impact of the cultural and creative sectors on competitiveness, cultural diversity and environmental sustainability. It also explores how to support post-Covid recovery of the sector itself. Furthermore, the case study research also facilitates the identification of gaps in extant sources of quantitative data, suggesting approaches on how these can be plugged. For this reason, WP2 is not just the empirical backbone of the CICERONE project, it also provides critical inputs for the work in other WPs (most notably WP4 and WP6).

This deliverable (D2.6b) reports on the case studies on the visual arts industry. Together with the reports D2.1 to D2.5, D2.6a, D2,7 and D2.8, it provides strategic snapshots of the rich and variegated tapestry of European production networks (both within and across industries).

The visual arts sector comprises various artistic activities created primarily for visual perception. The sector encompasses “all non‐literary and non‐musical fine arts” and includes artworks of a visual nature such as paintings, crafts, photography, video, prints and sculptures. In this report, we attempt to provide an innovative way of understanding how production networks in visual arts function based on the global production network approach. This analytical framework highlights the role of visual artists and other actors in the artworks’ production, distribution, exchange and archiving. In addition, it includes the role of local, national and global conditions where the artwork is produced, emphasising the importance of different forms of embeddedness and power structures within networks. Utilising the key analytical building blocks of the GPN approach, we aim to provide a new foundation for effective policies at the EU, national and local levels targeted at economic activities in visual arts.

The report is divided into four chapters. The first chapter provides a literary review to discuss what is known about the visual art  sector, laying the foundation for case study research. It zooms in on the types of goods and services, types of actors, their respective roles and activities, forms of embeddedness and policies at different scales. Central to discussing these issues is the lens of the
GPN. The second chapter provides an exploratory statistical mapping of the visual arts sector to discuss the characteristics of the available data and their usefulness and reliability in mapping the activities of this cultural and creative sector. Here, we also seek to retrieve data through the GPN lens to outline relevant statistics for each production phase, identifying data gaps while recommending ways to collect (more) relevant data.

Thus, despite the limitations, the first two chapters focus on what the qualitative and quantitative data allow us to understand about the visual arts sector while providing an overview of things we do not know. We propose new ways of gathering relevant data to broaden our understanding of this sector, as discussed in Chapter 3. Utilising detailed case study research, we zoom in on different paths where visual artworks can be created, produced, distributed, consumed and archived.

In this report, we conduct three in‐depth case studies: (1) Patty Morgan, a Dutch webshop for contemporary art, (2) Sibumski, a recently graduated visual artist and (3) Bulgarian participation in the Venice Biennale, the most prestigious international visual arts exhibition hosted bi‐annually in the city. These cases allow us to showcase the diversity in the visual arts to expose causal relationships and reveal the sector’s complexity, dynamics and values. For each case, we analyse a specific project to explore labour market dynamics (e.g. power relationships between actors, necessary skills, contracts and policy issues). As such, we analyse Patty Morgan’s sales activities and Sibumski’s creation of an artistic design while disentangling an entire art project. Utilising the GPN approach, we also analyse the economic activities and their broader context that bring an art project from “creation” to consumer sales and consumption. Moreover, we address crucial dynamics, such as Covid‐19 and digitalisation, analysing how they present challenges and opportunities for the actors involved. In conclusion, we link the chapters to show how current available qualitative and quantitative data can benefit from detailed case study research using the GPN approach.

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