Irish Government to pilot universal basic income for artists

Dublin City

The Irish Culture and Arts Minister, Catherine Martin, has announced that the Government will pilot a €25 million basic income guarantee scheme for artists and art workers in 2022.

The three-year scheme is devised to address the creative sector in Ireland, amongst the worst hit by the economic trauma of Covid-19. The Irish Government has also stated that it will maintain the raised budget of €130m the Irish Arts Council received to address pandemic issues including €25m for the live entertainment sector.

In a statement, Minister Martin said that the decision to try a basic income system was a key request of the Irish Culture Recovery Taskforce. ‘I am particularly pleased to be announcing the pilot of the new Basic Income Guarantee Scheme for artists. Grounded in on-going dialogue with the sector, this scheme will bring new life and support to the arts and culture sector, and I hope it will provide an important legacy for our artists, after the very difficult circumstances they have endured over the last year and a half.’

The department she leads, Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, has allocated the funds as part of its €1,197,498,000 budget for 2022, and stated that, ‘Significant sectoral stakeholder engagement will take place in the coming weeks to inform the pilot scheme, and ensure that it meets the needs of the sector. Once that engagement is complete, details will be finalised and announced, with a likely pilot launch in early 2022.’

Maureen Kennelly, Director of the Irish Arts Council, responded enthusiastically to the news. ‘People working within the arts have shown remarkable resilience, imagination and compassion during the pandemic,’ she said. ‘The return to presentation of work for the public is happening steadily and carefully and it is vital that we protect the sector as it emerges. With this increased investment, high quality work can be made and can reach the public safely. It will also help us ensure that people from all backgrounds in every part of the country will have the opportunity to participate in and experience the arts.’

Universal basic income schemes have been attempted with mixed success around Europe over the last few years and it was advocated by all but the Conservative Government as a solution to the loss of income caused by the pandemic in the UK. Criticism has been levelled that giving people a basic income is an incentive for indolence, but evidence from a huge trial in Finland suggests otherwise.

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