2022, Wages for Wages Against

A survey on the Swiss Art Awards by Wages For Wages Against

Wages For Wages Against collective won a Swiss Art Award in 2022 in the Critique, Publishing, Exhibition category. Within this framework, but independently of the Federal Office of Culture (FOC), we conducted a survey among the artists who participated, are considering participating, or are not participating in the Swiss Art Awards competition. At the same time, interviews were conducted with the Chair of the jury as well as the Official of the FOC in charge of the Swiss Art Awards.

While some selection criteria are explicitly stated in the conditions of participation, others, either objective or subjective, remain implicit or even unconscious and unformulated. These tacit criteria can act as psychological and systemic limitations. They unintentionally reproduce many behaviors
and habits while dismissing certain artists or less conventional practices. The goal of this survey is to make transparent the selection processes of the competition. We also want to understand why some artists do not apply. In a broader sense, we want to rethink the founding principles of artists’ support policies. Indeed, the Swiss Art Awards function in a similar way to numerous competitions, grants or subsidies within the Swiss cultural sector, which punctuate the professional life of artists and art workers. In the following pages, you will find excerpts of the data collected from the public survey intended for all artists eligible for the Swiss Art Awards, whether they applied or not. Available in 4 languages (German, French, Italian and English) and conducted anonymously, the survey was released in March 2023. Through 75 questions, it tries to understand the selection processes at all stages of the competition, as well as its impact on the artist’s career and on a psychological level. We are also organizing a workshop open to everyone entitled Let’s Shape the Future of the Swiss Art Awards! in the exhibition space. The conclusions drawn from this working group will be shared with the FOC, in the hope of inspiring reforms aimed at reshaping the Swiss Art Awards in a fairer way and offering a less competitive structure.

Wages For Wages Against (wfwa.ch) is a collective and campaign for the fair remuneration of artists in Switzerland, better work conditions, and an alternative economy of the arts, actively fighting all forms of discrimination through public debate and collective action. We require art organizations to be accountable and transparent to guarantee fair practices and equal opportunities in a too often discriminatory context. We want to pool our knowledge, recreate common spaces, unveil systemic mechanisms, talk about money and competition, regain power and governance over issues concerning artists, fairly redistribute public money, and counter rather than replicate patterns of domination.

The results of the Wages For Wages Against survey can be found in the new journal dedicated to the category critique, publishing, exhibition.