Structure vs individual

Over a twenty-years period, the portion of permanent hired ensembles on the theaters in Sweden has declined drastically. Actresses and actors are to very high degree freelancers. In Sweden there are about 2300 actresses and actors, ninety percent are freelancers, ten percent has permanent positions.

On Stockhom Stadsteater (Stockholm City Theatre) the portion of people with permanent jobs have declined from 70 to 20 percent over the twenty-year period, at the same time as the number of plays performed has risen. Benny Fredriksson, the Director of Stockholm Stadsteater, has been seen as the leader of the modern theater in his efficiency, number of plays performed, and not the least, getting audience to come.

The crack in the glamour started yesterday, when the actor Ulf Friberg wrote in a big article in the daily Dagens-Nyheter about the conditions for actors and actresses at Stockholm Stadsteater. He means that the fact that so many are freelancers creates a quiet culture, critics are swallowed in fear you will not get the next job. Mr Fredriksson has drawn the efficiency too far, is his point.

The ones standing with the cap in their hands are the ones creating the content, of without every theater is only an empty shell: The actresses and actors.

We have seen it before. Some years ago a debate roared in Sweden due to the fact that one of the biggest museums in Sweden, Moderna Museet (Modern Museum), didn’t pay the visual artists for the time to put together a new exhibition for the museum. Everyone else was paid. The Director, administrators, guides, and the caretakers. But not the artist. They should be happy to be able to have an exhibition at all at such a prestigious museum. But you can’t pay rent with honour.

It’s interesting in times when the mantra from local authorities to the state, from business life and bureaucrats, even among ourselves within cultural life is: Artists have to know how to price themselves and their work!

For the theater it would be fine if the hourly payment for freelancers covered costs for development, reading and rehearsal. It doesn’t. Instead different competence-programs are started, all with the aim of teaching artists to become better at selling themselves.

When in fact, the present crisis of the theater has structural reasons. It can not be blamed on or solved by individuals. No matter how many entrepreneurial programs we set up.

2 Responses to “Structure vs individual”

  1. så, vi har alltså ingen anledning att rekommendera våra skådespelarstudenter att läsa kurser som ”Konsten att leva på sin konst”? Inte heller finns det någon lyckosam entreprenör inom teaterkonsten (läs utanför statens skyddande filt)? Håller inte med.

  2. Man kan också läsa det som att javisst, är det viktigt med kurser som Konsten att leva på sin konst och alla andra som pågår om kulturföretagande osv. Samtidigt finns det strukturella problem som inte kan lösas med att säga att det hänger på individen. Behövs både och. :-)

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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