Online | High Culture – Low Wages! Discussion in event cycle Paths to Autonomy

2020 12 01 — 2020 12 05
Author Echo Gone Wrong
Published in Events in Lithuania

On December 1 and December 5, a fourth event of the ‘Paths to Autonomy’ night school will take place, titled High Culture – Low Wages!

On 1 December 8 pm (UTC+02): Discussion High Culture / Low Wages! with Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers’ Initiative), Artworkers’ Forum, Marina Vishmidt, Emilija Švobaitė, Vaida Stepanovaitė, and Noah Brehmer.

The discussion will be live streamed and accessible without registration on Kaunas Artists’ House FB page, and held in English.

On 5 December 4 pm (UTC+2): Reading of Airi Triisberg’s „Art Workers’ Movement in Tallinn: The Politics of Disidentification“.

The session will take place online and in English. Please register at

Discussion High Culture / Low Wages!

In May 2019 cultural workers from the Polish Union Inicjatywa Pracownicza (Workers’ Initiative), began a campaign called “High Culture / Low Wages”, demanding better contracts and salaries. In August 2020 cultural workers, supported by Artworkers Forum, went on strike at the Tate Modern after the museum announced it would cut more than 300 jobs from its commercial arm, Tate Enterprises, regardless of the government providing a 1.57b support package for the sector. We all know that working conditions in the cultural sector of Lithuania are plagued with inequalities, low-salaries, and flexible, project dependent contracts (if we get any at all) –– could unions help us? In this session we will address the importance of building a cultural workers’ union movement in Lithuania. We will also consider how unions are more than just economic bodies, supporting autonomous political and creative expression.

Reading group for Airi Triisberg‘s „Art Workers’ Movement in Tallinn: The Politics of Disidentification“

Who, exactly, is an art worker’s employer, around and against which they could unionise? Is it the institution that commissions the work, or the institution that provides you with a grant, or an art academy that employs you on an intermittent basis? Or is it, at the end of the day, “yourself”, or the “society” at large?.. How, when employed in many institutions (or none), and in unclear periods of time, could art workers go on strike or organise a collective act of refusal? These and other material and ideological obstacles, faced by Estonian art workers organising in the Union of Contemporary Art (Kaasaegse Kunsti Liit, KKL), seem very recognisable and actual to Lithuanian art workers, as well. For starters, Triisberg suggests that we state our status as art workers and engage in the process of “disidentification”—fighting against the beliefs that “art making is a hobby (…) and is not supposed to be a source of stable income, and (…) that art practitioners are entrepreneurs who are selling their products in the market”.

Moderated by Tomas Marcinkevičius. Registration at

The text for reading can be found here (p. 139-151):

Paths to Autonomy is an online night school made up of discussions, talks and readings exploring Eastern and Western histories and practices of cultural autonomism. Five sessions, from October to December. Project is organised by project space Kabinetas and political hub Luna6. Communications partner Kaunas Artists’ House. Event design by Studio Cryo Project is funded by Lithuanian Council for Culture.