Conductor Pieter Jan Leusink stops after a statement about sexual intimidation

Yes, it occurs everywhere, but in the culture and media sector the risk of undesirable transgressive behavior is particularly high, due to the specific characteristics of that sector. That is an important conclusion of the study that a special committee of the Council for Culture carried out last year. On Tuesday, the Council presented the advice based thereon, Across the borderto State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Culture and Media, D66).

Former culture minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (D66) had asked the Council for advice in June of last year, after incidents such as the prosecution of artist Julian Andeweg for his behavior at the art academy in The Hague, the prosecution for multiple rapes by the director. by cultural platform Moam, Martijn N. and the departure of artistic director and director Marcus Azzini from Toneelgroep Oostpool due to (sexual) misconduct. Since the request for advice, sexual hunting behavior has increased The Voice of Holland to light, and director Ralph Keuning had to leave Museum de Fundatie because, according to an independent investigation, safety in the workplace had been jeopardized by his behaviour.

tip of iceberg

These known cases are probably just the tip of the iceberg, the Council writes. There are no reliable figures for the Netherlands, but in Flanders three quarters of women in the culture and media sector have experienced cross-border behavior in the workplace, according to research from 2019. The Netherlands is different.”

The Council not only looked at sexually transgressive behaviour, but also at insecurity due to discrimination, exclusion and bullying.

The Council for Diversity and Inclusion calls for special attention; taking those goals seriously leads to a more open, safer working environment.

The culture and media sector is especially vulnerable to transgressive behavior because many people compete for few places, giving ‘gatekeepers’ such as casting directors, curators, art teachers or artistic directors disproportionate power. “That promotes unsafe situations,” the Council writes.

Many vulnerable freelancers

The great job insecurity of the many self-employed workers in the sector – more than half have no permanent contract – also leads to imbalanced power relations and insecurity. Research by the International Labor Organization (ILO) shows that less than 20 percent of victims of sexually transgressive behavior were employed full-time, 60 percent were freelancers and 35 percent had a temporary contract.

In addition, renunciation and strong criticism are inherent to the performance culture of the sector. “The line between giving strong feedback, necessary for the artistic process, and burning down a dancer, actor or student can be thin.”

Due to all these characteristics, there is a culture of silence in the sector, the Council notes. Victims of undesired behavior often do not report this, and witnesses of undesired behavior often do not intervene. In itself, there are all kinds of structures to deal with undesirable behaviour, but they are not sufficient. Not without culture change. Internal confidential advisers are often not trusted enough, and hotlines are considered insufficient.

Students in art education also run risks. They are expected to be vulnerable and (also literally) to expose a lot of themselves, while the teachers are not always didactically trained.


Verdict College: ‘Conductor Pieter Jan Leusink has sexually intimidated musicians’

No ‘quick fixes’

Anyone who expected the Council to come up with draconian advice of harsh penalties and clear boundaries will be disappointed. There are no “quick fixes” for the problem of social insecurity – also known as misconduct – precisely because it is so complex. Where the border is is subjective, the gray area is large. The Council’s most important advice? Prevention by talking. It must become habitual in every workplace to talk about power relations, safety and what is desirable and undesirable behavior. In the opinion of the Council, this will not happen automatically because institutions have to get to work. They themselves have to conduct that conversation with their employees, make a risk inventory, provide training on social safety and guarantee access to a confidential advisor. And it is up to the regulators to ensure that cultural and media institutions actually do this.

In art education, social safety must become a permanent part of the training, and a didactic training must be a requirement for the teachers. “It is not permissible for star teachers to evade this because of an alleged professional excellence.”

Another Council recommendation has been a hot topic in the cultural sector for years; improve the position of freelancers, with fairer pay and a better legal position. In addition to political will, this complex dossier that affects all sectors also requires a lot of money. On Budget Day, State Secretary Uslu meets with the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment with detailed plans for improving the labor market, including culture.

The increasingly important Mores hotline must also be expanded – and better financed – so that it can function as the independent hotline for the entire culture and media sector. In addition, structural scientific research must be carried out by a knowledge center that has yet to be established.

With the cooperation of Sofie Bongers.

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