For almost two months, Art’s sector in Greece has been in turmoil fighting against a Presidential Decree signed in mid-December. Students and art workers continue the struggle with occupations of state theaters and schools that have created hotbeds of struggle and disobedience in city centers with live assemblies, mobilizations, and a variety of actions. They are stating that they will not tolerate the total devaluation of their studies and labor rights by the government and the Presidential Decree. In addition, the resignation of 41 professors from the National Theatre School and 21 professors from the State Theatre School of Northern Greece is a resounding sign of protest against the denial of the government to withdraw the Presidential Decree. The strikes of all art sectors that took place on 1-2 and 8 February, putting all theatre performances, productions, filming, and rehearsals on hold, were a massive response of art workers to the government’s policy.
In the current era of multiple crises, all governments maintain more or less the same political agenda, which is none other than that of the complete impoverishment of the affected majority of society against the interests of the bourgeoisie. The degrees of art schools (state and private) are passing to the secondary level, removing their salary and professional rights, considering the artists as high school graduates. The Presidential Decree comes at a time when the New Democracy government with all the reactionary capitalist restructurings it promotes – following the policy of the previous governments – is attacking the educational, labor, and democratic rights of the new generation, intensifying poverty and misery. The chronic political choices of each government promoted private Art Education and at the same time excluded the possibility of establishing public and higher education. This policy led to the creation of dozens of private art schools, limited the possibility of public and free Art Education, abolished the art courses in schools, reduced subsidies to cultural sites, conversed cinemas into commercial complexes, favoring large producers and “benefactors”, reinforced the tragic working conditions with a view to profit, to the complete devaluation of culture. These choices of the government are not detached from its overall strategic policy in labor, education and culture. It is fully in line with the violent restructurings that implemented in line with the policy of the EU and capital; by downgrading the educational/scientific knowledge of the younger generation, submitting to the market/entrepreneurship and strengthening businesses. It seems that the currently recognized degrees in performing arts will only be provided by private colleges: the advertising of fine arts departments has already begun by these colleges.
The New Democracy government aims at the complete transformation of education into a commodity and a field of profitability, with business interests taking precedence over the essential education and needs of students. We are not surprised by this fact, as it has been trying to apply the same directions for years in Higher Education.
The fight continues dynamically! We will not submit.
The occupations and their coordination, the strikes and the various militant actions of the students and art workers prove that they are determined for a lasting struggle until the implementation of their demands.
The media statements of Mitsotakis that this government will solve the problem and that committees will be created to resolve the issue do not convince anyone. The government’s attempt with dubious promises and exceptions, with laws that remove the right to Collective Agreements and shift the setting of artists’ salaries to the government in question, with empty words to appease the struggles of the artists, reveal its fear and the essential power of the struggle of occupations and strikes. Once again, the government’s maneuver does not provide substantive answers and does not satisfy the demands of art workers and students neither for the signing of Collective Agreements nor for the establishment of University Artistic Education.
This struggle has paved the way for a fierce head-on confrontation with the core of government policy on public education and labor. It paves the way for an artistic education that will meet the modern needs of society and people of culture! For an Art without sponsors and private companies. It conflicts with the policy that wants a dismantled education, shaping tomorrow’s workers according to the needs of the market and the profits of capital.
That is why we consider it necessary for this struggle to be united with the struggles of educators who fight against the educational restructuring aimed at the entrepreneurship of universities and the crushing of free education and linked to the demands of the workers for collective labor agreements and labor rights. The occupations of state theaters need to be supported by the associations of Art Schools, by the unions of the art and education sector, by the University Student Associations, so that they can discuss and hold assemblies, drawing up a militant plan. This is why we call on the entire sector to continue and escalate the struggle, deepening its political content and continuing to escalate the strikes until the necessary demands for the future of Culture are implemented. So that they can stand up against the government policy of New Democracy, breaking the pre-election apathy cultivated by the parliamentary forces!
- Immediate repeal of the Presidential Decree
- Establishment of an exclusively public, free Art University Education with the real possibility of free access for any art studies required
- In the above direction, upgrading the curricula and increasing the structures and admissions of state schools. Complete abolition of tuition fees and increase of their funding. Right to free student meals, accommodation, and student pass.
- Signing of Collective Agreements everywhere – No form of work unpaid (e.g. rehearsals)
- Increase in the art subjects periods in primary and secondary education. Reintroduction of art classes in Higher Secondary Education. Measures for all the necessary infrastructure for their effective teaching
- We demand education and culture that will shape man as a whole from the first years of his education and throughout his life. It is a debate that concerns the entire militant labor and educational movement, as the arts and cultural activities are a necessary condition for the development of knowledge, science, relationships and the society everyone deserves.