Health and Safety Issues in Precarious Cultural Work

Katherine Bischoping, Elizabeth Quinlan


Many creative workers are without the contractual clarity and safeguards bestowed by collective agreements or labour legislation, and encounter a host of health and safety issues as a result.  This study is based on a sample of eight Toronto-based theatre artists who had worked together on a 2008 production, and whose careers in the subsequent three years were explored in in-depth interviews. That the participants had held a total of 412 jobs, frequently unpaid, in a three-year period is indicative of the precarious conditions in which they laboured. This study details both psychological and physical health and safety risks that these cultural workers encountered as they contemplated labouring for love, incessantly sought creative cultural work opportunities, combined such work with other “flexible and disposable” (read: precarious) jobs, and laboured in unregulated or underregulated cultural workplaces.

Keywords: Health and Safety, Precarious Work, Creative Workers, Canada, Theatre Artists, Flexibility, Collective Bargaining

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