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Case study of Arte – Austria

Richard Pfeilstetter, University of Sevilla - Spain

Abstract: “ARTE” is an Austrian work integration social enterprise that uses waste to produce and commercialize high quality, hand-made design products such as cloth, furniture and accessories. The social enterprise provides temporary employment opportunities and training for up to one year to formerly (drug-) dependent persons. Therefore, ARTE pursues both a social and an ecological mission. Currently, ARTE provides employment to up to 35 persons with this particular difficulty to access the regular labour market. In addition, around 13 professionals from the business, social and design sector work for ARTE. The non-profit organization was initiated by the social worker “Laura” in 2002. Together with the art group “ONE”, she developed a proposal for a three-year project to receive funding from the European Union aimed at supporting work integration initiatives for vulnerable people. This was the beginning of ARTE. Apart from the European Social Fund, ARTE was supported over the years by many funding bodies such as the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS), the city-council Vienna, and a Viennese hospital. In addition, as a recognized work integration social enterprise (sozialökonomischer Betrieb or SÖB) in Austria, ARTE generates revenues by selling their products to both small and large customers that find in ARTE a partner for their corporate social responsibility activities. To this end, ARTE has a shop in a central area of Vienna, surrounded by many galleries and a vivid cultural life. There, they promote and sell products, but also host cultural events such as expositions or concerts. The workshop where the hand-made products are manufactured is located in the western part of the city. More recently, ARTE has opened a second shop around 60 kilometres west of Vienna. ARTE, its founder and their products have won many prizes in the fields of art and design, as well as from the welfare and charity sector. They are well established in the cultural life of Vienna and have attracted many researchers and journalists over the last 15 years to reporting on their activities.