April 19, 2022
Basic Income for the Arts
The idea of a universal basic income has been around in one shape or other for hundreds of years. Thomas Paine, whose radical thoughts spurred the American Revolution, proposed a tax plan that would provide a guaranteed income for everyone, rich or poor. Part of its appeal is that if everyone wasn’t forced into a wage slave existence in order just to survive, it would release time and energy for more creative or caring pursuits which would benefit society as a whole. Interesting experiment about to launch in Ireland – a Basic Income for the Arts.
The Irish Government has today launched a new and pioneering pilot scheme to support artists and creative arts workers. The Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme will examine, over a 3 year period, the impact of a basic income on artists and creative arts workers. Payments of €325 per week will be made to 2,000 eligible artists and creative arts workers who will be selected at random and invited to take part. The scheme will open for applications on 12 April.
The scheme was launched by the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin’s Temple Bar today. It is recognition, at government level, of the important role of the arts in Irish society. It also places a value on the time spent developing a creative practice and producing art. The main objective of the scheme is to address the financial instability faced by many working in the arts.
A basic income for the arts was the number one recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce Life Worth Living Report which was set up by Minister Catherine Martin in 2020 to examine how the sector could adapt and recover from the unprecedented damage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said:
“Government is committed to supporting the arts and this initiative has the potential to be truly transformative in how Ireland supports the arts in the future. Ireland’s arts and culture in all its distinctiveness and variety is the well-spring of our identity as a people and is internationally recognised. The Basic Income for the Arts is a unique opportunity for us to support our artists and creatives in the sector and ensure that the arts thrive into the future.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said:
“This is a really important day for the creative arts in Ireland. Our country is world-famous for its creative industries, so it’s vital that we provide the right environment to allow artists to develop, flourish and focus on on their work. Back in 2017, as Minister for Social Protection I made it easier for self-employed creative professionals to access social welfare. Over the years we have greatly expanded the range of social insurance benefits that artists and other self-employed people benefit from. I’m very pleased that the government can now launch this pilot scheme for a basic income grant for artists and creative professionals. As an artist or creator, it can take time to get established, to build up a portfolio and develop a reputation. Even then, income can be erratic or volatile. This new grant will create a floor and a safety net for artists. I am very interested to know what we will learn from this pilot.”
Minister Catherine Martin said:
“This announcement heralds a new era for the arts in Ireland. As our artists and creative professionals emerge from the devastating impact of the pandemic, the government is committed to providing an unprecedented level of support as they seek to rebuild their livelihoods. I want the arts not just to recover, but to flourish. That is why I secured funding to help realise this scheme, which was a key priority for me in the Budget.”
Clare Duignan, Chairperson of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce said:
“As Chair of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce I am very pleased to see the launch of the Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme today. This was the Taskforce’s number one recommendation, something on which the members unanimously agreed; we believe that the scheme has the potential to be genuinely transformative in terms of the sustainability of the sector.”
Minister Martin stressed that stakeholder engagement has been central to her in the development of this policy initiative. A stakeholder consultation forum was held on the issue in December 2021 at which over 150 participants from 50 representative and resource organisations in the arts and culture sector attended. In January 2022, the department also conducted a public consultation on the issue.
Minister Martin added:
“This pilot scheme represents a ground-breaking opportunity for us to explore how the role of the artist in Irish society can be protected and nurtured so we can continue to be inspired by great art for generations to come.”
The scheme will open for applications on Tuesday, 12 April and close on Thursday, 12 May 2022.
See information on the eligibility criteria and how to apply for the pilot scheme.
Key points of the scheme
Overall, BIA aims to:
- pilot a sector specific support for the arts, in the form of a basic income, to recognise the value of time spent on creative practice and for arts workers who make a key contribution to the creative production process;
- enable artists and creative arts workers to focus on artistic production/practice without having to enter into employment in other sectors to sustain themselves;
- support participants to develop their practice by providing income during periods when practice and portfolio are being developed;
- give recognition to the value of the arts and the role of creative practice in Irish society; and
- minimise the loss of skill and experience from the arts sector
2,000 recipients will be randomly selected from the pool of eligible applicants.
They will receive the payment – set at €325 per week – paid on a monthly basis.
It will be a non-competitive process, therefore once a person satisfies the eligibility criteria they will be included in a randomised selection process.
Unsuccessful but eligible applicants will be invited to participate in a control group to facilitate a comprehensive ex post appraisal of the pilot. This will help evaluate the impact of the payment by comparing outcome for those who received the payment with a group of peers who were not paid the basic income over the same period.
Similar to most other income the payment will be taxable but the amount of taxation paid will depend on an individual’s personal circumstances.
Recipients of the Basic Income are entitled to earn additional income, which would also be reckonable for the purposes of income tax.
Eligibility will be based on the definition of the arts as contained in the Arts Act 2003; ““arts” means any creative or interpretative expression (whether traditional or contemporary) in whatever form, and includes, in particular, visual arts, theatre, literature, music, dance, opera, film, circus and architecture, and includes any medium when used for those purposes”.
A creative arts worker is someone who has a creative practice and whose creative work makes a key contribution to the production, interpretation or exhibition of the arts. “Arts” means any creative or interpretative expression (whether traditional or contemporary) in whatever form, and includes, in particular, visual arts, theatre, literature, music, dance, opera, film, circus and architecture, and includes any medium when used for those purposes.