Armes-Cruz, C. (2021). Arts Workers in Precarity: Organized Responses to the Gig Economy of Performing Arts Worlds. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.2.332
This thesis looks at the history and present of the gig economy in the arts, from its early days in the work programs of the New Deal through the precarious times of the Covid present. I identify the historical context of labor in the arts and the shifting qualities of the gig economy over time, name the hierarchies implemented by arts organizations that utilize a curatorial model of programming, and illuminate the ways in which individual artist, activist, and organizational experiments move towards an attempt at equity at the level of wages, labor, and distribution of power. Looking into the activities of artist-activist organizations working on and adjacent to issues of labor and precarity such as the Art Workers Coalition and Black Emergency Cultural Coalition of the 1970s, W.A.G.E., and the 2020 People’s Space experiment at Performance Space New York, I observe how different groups of arts workers have worked to address harmful conditions within the economy of the performing arts with urgency. Grounded throughout is the notion that the collective labor of arts workers - those who facilitate and support the presentation, interpretation, and archiving of artworks alongside artists - are essential to the making and presenting of performance and the imagining of more sustainable, equitable futures for the field.