The Arts Council today welcomed the news that Minister Catherine Martin launched Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts Pilot Scheme.
Welcoming the announcement, Prof. Kevin Rafter, Chair of the Arts Council said:
"Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts Pilot Scheme is a major vote of confidence in the arts sector following a historic €130m budget for the Arts Council again in 2022. In its policy response to the Covid-19, Survive, Adapt and Renew, the Arts Council called for increased funding and a basic income scheme. We look forward to seeing the impact of the pilot programme, and to its expansion in subsequent years.”
Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Arts Council said:
“Basic income aligns with the strategic priorities of the Arts Council. This is an innovative step towards enriching the cultural ecology in Ireland meaning the public will have more opportunities to enjoy high quality arts experiences. Artists from different social and demographic backgrounds will be more able to pursue a career in the arts. This is important because it means we get to hear a wider range of voices in the arts that better reflect contemporary Irish society.”
The working and living conditions of artists remain below acceptable standards, with many artists reporting incomes below the national average and below minimum wage. The arts sector is increasingly shaped by the gig economy with highly fluctuating and uncertain patterns of income. The arts sector is highly educated but has difficulty retaining talent within the industry and artists report experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. COVID-19 put the precariousness of the industry under even sharper focus, exposing vulnerabilities which have existed for decades within the Irish arts sector. All of this limits the potential of the arts and culture sectors to benefit and contribute to broader Irish society socially and economically.
Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts Pilot is an opportunity to test what happens when practitioners in the arts can rely on a basic but consistent level of income over a sustained period.
It is anticipated that the pilot will reduce the constant level of uncertainty and lack of security felt by many in the sector. It will allow and encourage entrepreneurship, facilitate risk-taking and experimentation allowing artists to develop and hone their skills, and increase the quality of artistic output, in particular supporting emerging artists at the outset of their career. We envisage that participants will experience increased levels of self-esteem and career contentment, as well as reducing their levels of stress and improving mental health and well-being. We hope that artists from a wider range of social and demographic backgrounds will be able to form and establish a career in the arts.
The Arts Council welcomes this important announcement and is encouraged by the level of government support afforded to the arts since the initial COVID-19 outbreak.
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