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What is Mobility?

For the purpose of this study, Mobility is defined as the temporary cross-border movement of artists and other cultural professionals. Certain forms of mobility relate to the individual (e.g. networking, residencies etc); others are intrinsically connected to the mobility of works or performances in another country. Mobility flows will be influenced by work environments, general legal and political frameworks and specific measures.

Mobility is not only understood as occasional movements across national borders that may be useful to gain professional experience required for career advancement, as well as advance artistic endeavour, but more as an integral part of the regular work life of artists and other cultural professionals. Additional distinctions can be made between those who are already mobile and those seeking to become mobile: While most of the former will call for better socio-economic conditions to support their existing patterns of mobility, the latter are seeking better access to mobility funds and infrastructures.

Mobility schemes are those which support the trans-national or cross-border mobility of cultural professionals within the European space and beyond, i.e those who travel outside of their country of residence in order to perform, create, meet, cooperate and improve their skills and intellectual capacity for professional purposes.

Cultural professionals are defined as artists and other cultural workers of all disciplines, the latter comprising, for example, cultural managers, curators, producers, promoters, researchers, journalists, arts administrators and other operators in what is now frequently defined as the 'creative and cultural industries' or, more simply, the 'creative sector'. Their main aim is to seek out institutions, markets, platforms and spaces to distribute their works or to be engaged in a production as a natural part of their profession or artistic endeavour. However, mobility may not have the same relevance for all types of cultural professions and domains and can also be "forced" by political conflicts, by inadequate or limited economic and work conditions or by discrimination on grounds of ethnic or national origin etc.

Cross-border mobility as a regular occurrence is often found among groups of freelance professionals, particularly in fields such as dance, experimental art or pop music. Permanently mobile professionals work in the fields of circus or street arts, classical music and opera as soloists or in stagione ensembles e.g. for the period during which a tour or festival takes place or an operatic work is being produced and performed. While patterns of mobility in the live performance sector are, according to Richard Poláček, 'rarely predictable', he concludes that "for many EU live performance companies, especially in smaller countries, a large majority of their activity is being mobile in other countries (both in and out of the EU)." Obviously, the purpose of mobility for these groups, companies or troupes, which is caused by the type or location of their work, will differ if compared to that of professionals for whom there is not an urgent need or opportunity to be permanently mobile across national borders. This includes e.g. the curator of a museum whose specialisation matches the collection; the author who writes mainly regional detective stories; or the employed member of a city orchestra, who only travels abroad during one of the few guest performances of the ensemble.

Drawing the line between artistic mobility and migration can be difficult as some artists will spend part of their career living and working in global 'hotspots' such as London, Berlin, Paris or New York. This may be a phase in their career, or it may become part of a permanent journey of relocation.

Other types of mobility which the team recognises but does not address explicitly in this study are: non-occupationally driven mobility (e.g. cultural tourism); mobility of amateur cultural groups (e.g. through town twinning); virtual mobility or (Internet-mediated) 'brain circulation'; internal mobility that takes place within one country; and cross-cultural migration.  


What is Mobility?

Mobility is the temporary cross-border movement of artists and other cultural professionals.
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Related Websites

European Agenda for Culture

Causes & Consequences of Mobility

Status of Artists in Europe

Compendium of Cultural Policies
    and Trends in Europe

On-the-Move

Conteners

EURES

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