The massive reduction of public employment in Cuba to deflate swollen state payrolls will not affect artists, the country's culture minister said.

"In the process of availability (layoffs) recently begun in the sector, no artist or worker directly involved in the cultural area will be affected, only administrative personnel," Abel Prieto said at the recent Congress of the National Culture Workers Union.

The minister also criticized the "raving bureaucracy" that exists in Cuban cultural institutions and defended the restructuring of labor undertaken by the Raul Castro government.

"We ourselves inflate the payrolls and it's up to us to deflate them," he said.

The plan of reforms to modernize the socialist economic model undertaken by President Raul Castro includes drastic cuts in state work forces to eliminate more than 1 million jobs.

Some 500,000 layoffs were planned in the state sector for this year alone, but the process was delayed because the nascent private sector is not yet able to absorb all the workers that official language describes as "available."

At the union gathering, Prieto said he was open to studying the possibility that the island's musicians, painters and sculptors could have a representative, something not currently provided for under Cuban law.