Burnaway and Scalawag are seeking contributors and on-the-ground reporters to work on a collaborative longform series of stories exploring the connective threads between labor conditions, hyper-development, and arts workers in the South.
Last year, employees at the Museum of Modern Art successfully lobbied for raises following months of bargaining, settling on a five-year contract promising employee health benefits, salary raises, and chances for upward mobility. Just a few months ago, employees seeking to form a union at the New Museum in New York elected to join Local 2110, a United Auto Workers group that also oversees unions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and the New York Historical Society, with the Brooklyn Academy of Music appearing close to joining them.
According to an analysis by the pro-union think tank Economic Policy Institute, people under the age of 35 accounted for 76% of new union members in 2017, and one in four new jobs created in America was a union job. In their paper addressing the trends, EPI says younger people are seeking protections in a workforce that continually compels them to accept unpaid internships, part-time wages for full-time hours, and other precarious labor agreements. Such problems have long been endemic in creative fields but have become more pervasive following the rise of a more generalized gig economy.
As arts workers raise consciousness and examine their roles in movements for better labor conditions, local and global fights for land, housing, and safety outside of and away from war and policing, we want to take a special focus on the arts and the organizing happening inside and outside of them in the South.
Burnaway is an Atlanta-based digital magazine of contemporary art and criticism from the American South. Since 2008, Burnaway has become a vital resource for dialogue and critique among artists and arts workers in the region. Scalawag magazine aims to sparks critical conversations about the many Souths where we live, love, and struggle by uplifting untold stories and marginalized voices. In print, online, and in-person, Scalawag amplifies the voices of activists, artists, and writers to reckon with Southern realities as they are, rather than as they seem to be. This collaboration aims to offer a platform for art workers, cultural organizers, and residents on the brink of displacement to share the struggles of navigating the challenges of living and working in states with limited labor protections for all workers, cultural or otherwise.
We’re interested in hearing both pitches and general ideas around this theme, as well as personal connections to the growing movement from art organizers’ perspectives. If you’re a cultural worker or writer in the South interested in being a part of a series on this topic, please send your pitch in the body of an email to [email protected], with “Art and Labor” in the subject line.