Socially Responsible But Not Paying Artists

Over the last few weeks I have read and mentioned several alarming studies about how much musicians actually earn – or one should write how little. In Germany around 20% to 30% of musicians live below the poverty line.

After reading my blog post on the Bertelsmann Study about career opportunities for opera singers, a musician reached out to me to make me aware of an article on Dutch news portal NOS. The article is about musicians playing lunchtime concerts in the Netherlands for free -> Article.

The article states that even the world-famous Concertgebouw in Amsterdam does not pay its musicians for lunchtime concerts. They argue this fact with not having a budget for lunchtime concerts. This is, in my view, unbelievable. The director of the Concertgebouw, Simon Reinink, takes that a step further and justifies not paying artists – according to NOS – that they gain concert experience.

The lunchtime concerts at the Concertgebouw take place almost every week. And they are free to the public. Well, they are actually not free to the public but sponsored by the artists on the stage – but nobody says that. The Concertgebouw actually even mentions the free lunchtime concerts on its webpage under Social Responsibility. How can it be socially responsible when requiring musicians to play for free?

One wonders how the sponsors of the Concertgebouw feel update exploiting artists. The main sponsors are BankGiro Loterij and the oldest financial institution in the Netherlands, Van Lanschot Kempen.

In my own opinion artists always need to be paid. But even more importantly, leading arts institutions such as the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, cannot and should not engage musicians without paying them. Sponsors and public funding bodies should include respective stipulations in their contracts with arts institutions.

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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