The Arts Council in partnership with Maynooth University is supporting a new research project exploring the lived experience of disabled artists in receipt of welfare supports.
Titled - Artists at the intersection of work and welfare: Low-income disabled artists’ navigation of welfare and working lives – the project is now issuing a call out to artists who would be interested in taking part in the research. Information on how to partake, what would be required of participants, and how to contact the researcher is set out below.
The research is being carried out by Dr Philip Finn who is a postdoctoral researcher at Maynooth University. The research was awarded funding through the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Postdoctoral Scheme. This scheme allows academic researchers to link with a public sector body to carry out independent research which is of interest to the public body. The research is co-funded by the Irish Research Council and the Arts Council under the grant number EPSPD/2022/178.
Interested in Taking part?
Below is a detailed description of the research project. If you would like to take part, or have any other queries, please contact Dr. Philip Finn at:
This new research focuses on the experience of disabled artists’ navigating the welfare system as part of their working lives. Central to the research is an investigation of the impact of welfare rules and conditions on disabled artists’ ability to work and earn income. In understanding the welfare experience of disabled artists the research also explores their interactions with welfare agencies and caseworkers.
To provide a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing disabled artists, the research also investigates their navigation of artistic incomes through commissions, grants and other funding. It seeks to illustrate the relationship between welfare supports and artistic income which many artists, but particularly disabled artists, must negotiate in their everyday lives. In doing so, the research can also show how these experiences impact artistic outputs and development, and shape one’s identity.
Disabled artists face a triple precarity since people with disabilities face higher risks of poverty, social exclusion and discrimination in their working lives and in public services. Moreover, precarious, sporadic, and insecure incomes along with reliance on welfare supports is a feature of many artists’ lives. This is particularly true for disabled artists who receive lower incomes from artistic employment, funding and grants, and whose crucial welfare payments and supports are potentially at risk due to any increase in artistic income.
With this in mind the research addresses fundamental questions regarding social and cultural participation, and the role of the welfare state in facilitating flourishing lives. For example, the talent of disabled artists is potentially curtailed as they may apply for smaller awards and funding amounts (or avoid these altogether) in order to comply with income assessment rules. Further, employment as well as social and cultural participation for disabled artists is undermined by discouraging take up of employment opportunities or by necessitating a devaluation of their own practices for fear of knock on effects on disability supports.
The research is focused on the lived experience of disabled artists and as such seeks to situate them as the experts of their own circumstances, needs and interests. The research reflects this by centring the voice of participants in telling the story of their experience.
Data collection will take place over the course of 2023 and will be primarily based on two interviews with participants with the first carried out between February – May 2023 and the second between October and December 2023.
Interviewees can also take part in two other optional methods. The first of these involves direct observation in artistic work spaces including more informal conversations about work and identity. Interviewees can also choose to take part in participant diary-keeping with weekly diary entries reflecting on experiences and issues they feel are important in relation to the research.
The duration of the data collection and the use of multiple methods is designed to illustrate how patterns in relation to welfare and working lives change or stay the same over time.
What is expected of me if I choose to take part in this research?
Interviews: The study will involve taking part in two interviews to track the ongoing experiences of work and welfare. The first interview will take place between February – May 2023, while the second will take place between October – December 2023. Interviews will focus on interactions with welfare offices; experiences of rules and conditions; their impact on artistic work; applications for funding; grants and commissions; and identity as an artist. With your permission these interviews will be audio recorded.
There is also the option of taking part in one or both optional methods. You can take part in the interviews without participating in either the direct observation or diary keeping.
Direct observation: I would like to accompany you to an artistic workspace / venue to directly observe your artistic work. This will involve me as a researcher making fieldnotes on what I observe as well as less structured interviews about your work, artistic and disabled identity, and what makes it possible. This interview will not be audio recorded, but with your permission I may record written notes about it. These observations will take place between July – October 2023.
Participant diary keeping: This will include at least one weekly diary submission to the researcher over the course of 6 weeks. You are free to submit more if you wish to do so. Each diary entry can be as long or as short as you wish. I will provide prompts to respond to but you are free to ignore these and focus on what matters to you.
Diary keeping is an opportunity for you to document your feelings in relation to your work as an artist, as a person in receipt of disability, or to reflect on issues raised in research interviews, to talk about issues or experiences in relation to welfare and/or work which may occur between interviews.
Diaries may be submitted as written text, audio or video. They should be submitted through MS Teams, via email or as physical hardcopies. The researcher will organize with you to collect hardcopy diaries at the end of this part of the research. Diary-keeping will take place between July – October 2023.
Is my participation anonymous?
Yes. Your participation in the research will be anonymous. All information collected about you during the course of the research will be kept confidential. No identifying information will appear in any published material.
Before taking part in the research the researcher will provide you with a written and/or verbal description of the project and the nature of your participation. Following this you will be asked to provide written or verbal consent to participating in the research. You will be provided with a copy of the consent form.
There is a possibility that as a working artist with a public identity you may potentially be identified through the research.
Interviews will be transcribed by a professional transcriber with a non-disclosure agreement in place alongside a strict criteria for removing identifying information.
What happens to my data?
All information used in the project will be anonymised with any identifiers removed.
While organisations might share information about participating in the research none of these organisations will have knowledge of your participation or any access to your information or data.
Only the researcher will have access to your identifying information, e.g. contact details. Any hard copies of such information will be stored in a locked cabinet within Maynooth University. All electronic copies will be stored in an encrypted file on a password protected computer. This information will be destroyed at the end of the project.
If you are feeling distressed at any point during interviews, diary keeping or direct observations, these can be paused or stopped.
You also have the right to withdraw your participation and data up until the completion of the project.
Who can take part?
The research seeks to include 20 participants. Each of these will take part in two interviews.
The optional methods of direct observation and participant diary keeping will each include 5-10 of these participants.
The research is looking to talk to adult (18 years or older) disabled artists who are currently or recently (within the previous six months) in receipt of welfare supports. Such supports include, but are not limited to, Jobseeker Payments, the Basic Income for the Arts, Disability Allowance, Invalidity Pension, Blind Pension, the medical card etc.
Who is carrying out the project?
This is a two year project which began in October 2022 and which will finish in September 2024.
The research is carried out by Dr Philip Finn who is a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Law and Criminology at Maynooth University. Philip’s research focuses on social policy with a particular focus on the lived experience and agency of welfare claimants.
The research was awarded funding through the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Postdoctoral Scheme through which academic researchers can link with a public organisation to carry out independent research which is of benefit to the organisation. The research is co-funded by the Irish Research Council and the Arts Council under the grant number EPSPD/2022/178.
What will be produced by the research?
The research will be written up to be published in scientific journals and books. It will also be presented at national and international conferences.
It will also be presented through blog posts and newspaper articles to reach a wider audience.
The research will produce an interim report (summer 2023) and final report (summer 2024) for internal use within the Arts Council to inform policy directions.
The research will also be presented to interested groups working or campaigning in relation to these issues.
A copy of research findings will be made available to you upon request.
Only anonymised data from participants will appear in these works.
How do I take part?
To take part please contact the researcher, Dr Philip Finn, directly by email at:
This research project is jointly funded by the Irish Research Council, under grant number EPSPD/2022/178, and the Arts Council.
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