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Gender and power relations: #MeToo in the Arts, from call-outs to structural change

2021 | SHIFT project

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This publication is the culmination of the SHIFT project’s work on Gender and Power Relations.

This topic encompasses complex issues, both in society at large and in the cultural sector. In light of developments since 2017, when the #MeToo movement rose to global prominence, the SHIFT partners made a common decision to focus on sexual harassment and power abuse in the European art world.


The collected stories cover, in particular, countries that are usually less “on the spot” when it comes to #MeToo cases (especially those in Central, Eastern, and Southern Europe), with the aim of providing a more balanced and contextualised picture of the current situation across the continent. 40% of the interviews were made with professionals from the Central, Eastern, and Southern European countries. This choice was driven by a desire to counterbalance the numerous publications, articles, and tools that are usually more related to Western contexts and that are collected in this report’s Annotated Bibliography.

The majority of the interviewees work primarily in the performing arts, including music.

Several visual arts professionals were also interviewed as well as people who work across disciplines. Additionally, a significant number (14 out of 23) of the stories we collected were from art academies and universities.

This research has focused on:

  • Existing documentation on sexual harassment and power abuse;
  • Analysis of a selection of internal documents within arts organisations (such as codes of conducts);
  • Interviews conducted between June and September 2021, with 23 art workers encompassing a variety of professional roles (leaders, teachers, curators…) and who were proposed by the SHIFT partners.

This publication seeks to highlight several major takeaways from the research, provide examples of organisational change through more detailed case studies, and give concrete recommendations based on the numerous discussions with art workers across Europe.

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