What is the Fair Practice Code?

The Fair Practice Code is a code of conduct for entrepreneurship and work in art, culture and creative industries, based on five core values: solidarity, diversity, trust, sustainability and transparency. The code encourages critical reflection and serves as a guide on how the sector collectively creates a future-proof labour market and professional practice. The Fair Practice Code serves as an umbrella under which regulations and guidelines can be developed for the various sectors which truly contribute to improving the earnings capacity and development perspectives for professionals in the cultural and creative sector. The Code also encourages the development of these perspectives, where needed.  

Fair Pay, Fair Share, Fair Chain

The code invites all stakeholders to accept a shared responsibility for a Fair Chain, giving artists and creative professionals a Fair Share and Fair Pay in view of the value of their professional skills, expressivity and unicity in society. This implies fair working conditions and pay, and that everyone is aware of their place in the chain, takes responsibility and acts in solidarity with other workers in the field.

The Fair Practice Code was drawn up by a broad representation of cultural and creative professionals. It complements the Governance Code Culture and the Code of Cultural Diversity. To find out more about how the Code was established, see “Why have a Fair Practice Code?”

Core values

Solidarity: The need for a shared interest and dependency is acknowledged, both in the chain of creation, production, distribution and business operation within the sector itself and in society as a whole. This means that it is a matter of course to defend or promote other parties’ interests, to seek to establish collective (copyright) agreements, and to acknowledge the importance of collective responsibility for fair pay, and to act accordingly.

Sustainability: In order to retain and stimulate the high quality and potential of the cultural and creative sector, it is vital to prevent any discouragement among creative professionals. This can be achieved through a forward-looking policy that focuses on growth and human capital development. In addition, investments in the quality of work through education, HR policy and agreements on insurance and pensions can safeguard potential and motivation among creative professionals for the long term.

Diversity: The cultural and creative sector aspires to be an inclusive environment. It should offer more opportunities and would benefit from better representation of society in all organisational fields and levels. This pertains not only to cultural/ethnic background, but also to gender, sexual orientation, age, knowledge and skills, and socioeconomic background.

Trust: In the cultural and creative sector – as in the science domain and unlike as in many other societal sectors – it is difficult to directly relate effort, talent and labour to quality and to a quantitative output with measurable returns. Instead of taking output as the yardstick, having trust in the outcome, dedication, quality and intention is an essential value and a condition for success.

Transparency:  Having trust in and an understanding of each other’s interests and possibilities presupposes a certain measure of openness regarding one’s policies and operational management. A transparent market – financed in part by societal clients such as funds and public bodies – promotes trust and ownership and offers strategic and practical opportunities for collaboration.

Who is the Fair Practice Code for?

The Code exists for all workers within the creative and cultural sector, as well as everyone that supports the sector and anyone who is a consumer of art and culture. The Code applies to both subsidised and non-subsidised individuals and organisations.

What does the cultural and creative sector encompass?

The cultural sector and creative industry encompass the following sub-sectors: performing arts, cultural heritage, visual arts, film and literature, architecture, design and new media, cultural education, amateur arts and libraries, media & entertainment, creative corporate services, archives, fashion and gaming.

The Fair Practice Code relates to all types of working relationships and is meant for clients, employers, employees, independent professionals, interns and volunteers. This means that dancers, artists, musicians, conservators, film makers, designers, architects and journalists, but also all supporting, technical and production personnel are part of the target group.

The code is also meant for institutions affiliated with the sector, such as sector organisations and funds as well as state, provincial and municipal governments, so that they can share in the responsibility and help create the conditions to apply, support and promote the Fair Practice Code.

For consumers of culture – the public – the Code offers the opportunity to add a clear understanding to the debate on the value of art and culture. Therefore, the Code also contributes to a greater appreciation for the role of the cultural sector in our economy and society. In addition, it provides the public with insight into the professional practice and ethics of various parties and working professionals in the culture sector.

How to apply the Fair Practice Code?

The Fair Practice Code should act as a practical tool for all culture professionals to enter into dialogue. It is an invitation to reflect critically on what is considered normal, to identify areas for improvement, and to take concrete action accordingly.

Applying the code starts with reading the code. Ask yourself how the five values connect to your practice. Do you see any room for improvement? The code formulates a number of themes that you can test your own practice against and that you can raise for discussion with the people and organisations you work with. You can use the code when formulating agreements, to identify and describe problems, and to work on solutions with for instance sector organisations, funds and (local) authorities.

Apply and explain

The sector is characterised by great diversity, which is why a tailored approach is necessary and unavoidable. Not everyone will be able to truly live up to all the clauses in the Code. This is why the principle of apply and explain is upheld. In this way, the Code offers the opportunity for clients, employees and subsidising bodies to provide and request insight. When institutions and organisations, as part of their accountability, explain why they were or were not able to fulfil certain agreements, both hidden flaws as well as best practices become clear.

The code is never complete; please help develop it further

Maintaining a collective spirit by developing and applying the Fair Practice Code is the shared responsibility of the entire sector: employers, clients, employees, artists, independent professionals, supporters, funds, unions, organisations and public authorities. Whoever applies the code is requested to propagate it publicly. This can be done in several ways, for example through annual reports, mentioning it on your website or in conversations with business partners or the public. In this way, knowledge of the Code can be disseminated, and its application is encouraged.

How fair is your practice? Do the scan!

A self-scan enables organisations and independent professionals to check whether they work according to the core values that constitute the Code. Are the values translated into a concrete policy and is this also applied in practice? The scan offers practical information with the various included themes. This may include current arrangements in collective employment agreements, fee guidelines, covenants and other relevant underpinning issues that you may use as an example or framework. Click here to start the scan.

Why have a Fair Practice Code?

Many of those working in the artistic, cultural and creative sectors face an unfavourable labour market position. This is confirmed by two important reports by the SER (Social and Economic Council) and the Council of Culture. The Fair Practice Code attempts to contribute to improving this position.

Background

There is a widespread and urgent need to design and maintain a healthy labour market in the cultural and creative sector. This has been discussed extensively over the past years, especially in the performing and visual arts sector. The first steps towards designing the concept of Fair Practice and its underpinning principles were taken during meetings with stakeholders. The urgency and need for core values to enhance fair practice were examined, as inspired by comparable initiatives in neighbouring countries and other sectors. This preliminary study led to the five shared values that underpin the Code of Conduct and offer a reference for reflection and evaluation. The Fair Practice Code was launched on 3 October 2017 and was refined in 2018 after a number of work sessions with cultural and creative professionals.

Appreciated passion?

The debate on Fair Practice has also contributed to raising awareness in the political arena, that both material and immaterial revaluation of the cultural and creative sector was needed. In the report ‘Verkenning arbeidsmarkt culturele sector’ (A study on the cultural labour market - January 2016) and the advisory report ‘Passie gewaardeerd’ (Appreciated Passion - April 2017), the Social Economic Council and the Council of Culture concluded that even though the art, culture and creative sector is a high-quality industry of international standing, it is also subject to erosion and a worrisome labour market.

The ‘Arbeidsmarktagenda’

The sector has assumed responsibility by joining forces and collectively drafting an ‘Arbeidsmarktagenda Culturele en Creatieve Sector 2017 - 2023’ (‘labour market agenda for the cultural and creative sector 2017- 2023’). This document sets out agreements to collectively improve the labour market position of cultural professionals.

Permanent dialogue

The labour market agenda was presented to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, on 14 November 2017.One of these agreements concerns the organisation of a permanent public debate: all stakeholder parties will remain in dialogue with each other on this subject and results will be monitored. The Fair Practice Code acts as a practical tool create a dialogue between cultural professionals, in order to reveal any areas for improvement and to take concrete action in these areas.