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Sepp Eckenhaussen

Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

‘‘How will our graduates make a living without selling their soul?’’

Sepp Eckenhaussen, arts researcher and organizer, explores sustainable economic models for the arts at Caradt. He addresses the art sector’s precarity through activism, policy, and digital culture

We know that the economy of the arts is fundamentally flawed. According to a 2019 UNESCO report, ‘the largest subsidy for the arts comes not from governments, patrons or the private sector, but from artists themselves in the form of unpaid or underpaid labour’. As forty years of policy focused on ‘resilience’, ‘entrepreneurship’, and ‘impact’ have failed to make art workers any less precarious, we urgently need to reboot our ideas around art, labour, and income. Can we imagine a sustainable art economy beyond precarity? How would this change the circulation of art works, the curriculum of art and design academies, the exhibition programs of museums, and the organization of collectives and unions?

 

Sepp Eckenhaussen (1993, he/him) is an arts researcher and organizer. His work focuses on visual art, digital culture, activism, policy, and new economies. At Caradt, he researches possible pathways towards economic sustainability in the arts, focusing on existing best practices around commons, cooperatives, basic income, and infrastructural critique as prefigurations of a sustainable art economy. Sepp’s objective is to identify, theorize, amplify, and contribute to these prefigurations, and – ultimately – to find out how the collective precarity of art workers be countered by a combination of political and economic innovations.

 

Next to his position at Caradt, Sepp works at the Institute of Network Culturesarrow (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences), where he runs the research program Our Creative Resetarrow. From 2020 until 2023, he was the co-director of Platform Beeldende Kunstarrow, an activist think-tank that represents the interest of independent art workers and takes action for better art policy in The Netherlands. At the INC, Sepp has published the monograph Scenes of Independence: Cultural Ruptures in Zagreb (1991-2019) and the anthology De bevrijding van het mecenaat. He holds an rMA in Art Studies from the University of Amsterdam. Sepp writes op eds for Dutch newspapers and articles for various periodicals, including Boekman, Mister Motley, and Amsterdam Alternative.

Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

The research group Cultural and Creative Industries investigates the role of artists and designers as creative innovators and drivers of social and economic change. Affiliated researchers analyse the cultural and creative industries from a critical point of view and examine the conditions under which timely forms of aesthetic expression and social connectedness can actually take place within the precarious reality of this field. What economic models are required by artists and designers to create a meaningful practice within the aesthetic, social, and economic intentions of the cultural and creative industries? What skills sets are required for those artists and designers who don’t just want to follow movements, but actually shape novel social and economic models of the future?

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