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For women in culture: Fiftitu%'s consultations have tripled since the pandemic
By Nora Bruckmüller, 05. Jänner 2024
The networking center helps women to have a fairer professional life in the arts, 2023 Fiftitu% received the Grand Provincial Cultural Award for Initiative Cultural Work
The joy of receiving the Grand Provincial Cultural Award for Initiative Cultural Work 2023 was great at the Linz networking center Fiftitu%. "Although I think the joy stems more from the recognition for our work than from the financial aspect," says Oona Valarie Serbest, Managing Director of Fiftitu%, about the EUR 7500 prize from the state. It was awarded at the end of December.
"We tend to work in an area where there is often a lot of devaluation. If you believe various comments online, advice centers for women are meeting places to drink coffee and waste time, but certainly not places to work."
In fact, the opposite is true. Fiftitu% is taking on a mammoth task. Founded in 1998, the organization is the only advice centre in Austria that prepares women and people who are discriminated against by a male-dominated society because of their gender identity (referred to as FLINTA) for careers in the arts and culture in organizational, bureaucratic and economic terms. No matter what field they come from, each of which has its own pitfalls, from film to stage and visual arts to literature.
Difficult for all genders
On average, Fiftitu% conducts 300 free and anonymous consultations a year - a threefold increase since the pandemic (more below). Serbest and her deputy Rebekka Hochreiter describe the core objective as promoting professionalization. Serbest: "Very few people can make a living from their art alone. It's difficult for all genders, but especially for women." Apart from the fact that the concept of genius in art and culture, which makes resources more accessible, is male-dominated, the myth that the industry is not patriarchally organized still persists. However, women face the same disadvantages here as elsewhere.
Fiftitu% not only helps women individually with specific projects, portfolios and funding applications, provides information on insurance, legal and tax issues, as Hochreiter explains, but also offers a helping hand to women returning to work who, for reasons such as childcare, care work and/or nursing, have had to fall back on a secure bread-and-butter job for years.
The Fiftitu% duo identify a weakness in the system in the lack of courses that prepare graduates for what happens after university: "A lot of people are not aware that they will be self-employed one day." Fiftitu% therefore offers courses at the Linz University of Art that are tailored to this problem and are open to all students, in line with the feminist attitude: no exclusion, but an environment that finds balance and in which everyone is doing well. Fiftitu% also offers workshops, mentoring and tools such as the open funding database newsbase.at. All of these steps are intended to lead to greater visibility and involvement on podiums and stages. Fiftitu% also organizes cultural events itself - from literature to film screenings.
It's hard to imagine given this workload: In addition to volunteers, two women, Serbest and Hochreiter, work part-time. Serbest: "In terms of the scope of services, we are driving a medium-sized company forward." Of course, he advises his clients to look after themselves. "In reality, we exploit ourselves to the full for our cause."
Fiftitu%'s work involves 4000 volunteer hours per year, with a budget of more than 200,000 euros.
In 2020, Fiftitu% provided more than 200.000 euros to artists in Upper Austria who would not have made it any further in the Covid-19 funding process without the support of Fiftitu%.
Facts and figures
Fiftitu% is funded by the federal government, the City of Linz and the Province of Upper Austria. There is also project funding. ): Helga Schager, Oona Valarie Serbest (management), Theresa Glötzl, Elisabeth Murhammer, Olivia Schütz, Gerlinde Schmierer, front: Rebekka Hochreiter (deputy management, left), Brigitte Vasicek
Picture: VOLKER WEIHBOLD