Yesterday an Austrian classical music agents’ working group, frustrated by the lack of action by the Austrian Secretary of State for Culture to alleviate the situation of freelance artists – and by extension their agents – sent out a news release. This morning the Minister resigned. « We hope her departure will lead to speedy action on the part of the Government. Our appeal is recognised by the Austrian chamber of commerce, which seems as keen as we are to see that an unbearable situation of hardship is resolved quickly and efficiently, and we have offered our assistance in achieving this », says Eleanor Hope, spokeswoman of ARGE Österreichische Agenturen der klassischen Musik.

Here is what the group published yesterday:

We produce culture – backstage! 

Every year, more than 40 Austrian artists’ agencies bring thousands of national and international artists to the stages of classical music throughout the country.

We agents are the essential interface between artists and the event industry and through our work we contribute to maintaining the system in a way which goes far beyond a simple brokering activity.

The legal ban on events which has been in force since 10 March 2020 has led to the complete loss of our income. A gradual return to normal business operations is not foreseeable in the near future. There is no realistic or swift strategy and timetable for the resumption of performance and concert operations, and thus no perspective on how and when we can resume our business activities.

* We call for the recognition by politicians and public institutions of the cultural sector as being systemically relevant.

* We urge the appointment of a panel of experts to review and revise the economic and organisational framework conditions for opera and concert operations. As mediation experts we want to be actively involved in this process.

* We call for the implementation of a catalogue of measures to secure the existence of the Austrian artists’ agencies. Our draft proposal has already been submitted to the Ministry.

* We require detailed measures to support artists who, due to the closure of opera houses and concert halls due to « force majeure », are not receiving their contractually agreed fees.

The classical music market is a complex ecosystem. Only by integrating all the relevant organisms can this unique biosphere survive the corona crisis.

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