Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme launched by Government
From Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
Last updated on
From Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
Last updated on
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.
Overall, BIA aims to:
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.
"Tá an-áthas orm fáilte a chur romhaibh anseo inniu chuig an ócáid speisialta seo, seoladh an Scéim Phíolótach um Ioncam Bunúsach do na hEalaíona.
I would like to welcome everyone here today to the launch of the Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme. I would particularly like to thank my colleagues the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar and to thank them for their continued support for this important initiative.
I know I don’t need to tell anyone here about the importance of Irish culture, Irish art and Irish productions, it cannot be overstated. And it was a reality we came to realise more than ever during the pandemic. The arts contribute to individual and societal well-being, as well as contributing to Ireland's reputation as a country with a rich cultural and artistic history.
I believe that this scheme is the start of a fundamental change in the way Ireland supports and recognises her artists and arts community. The idea for the Basic Income for the Arts pilot arose as a recommendation from the Arts and Culture Taskforce which I established in 2020 in response to the devastation wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic on our arts sector. I am delighted that the Taskforce chair Clare Duignan and other Taskforce members are with us here today and I would like to thank them for their work on producing their report Life Worth Living.
This measure is a research project and builds on the efforts of so many in recent years to highlight the need to support artistic practice. This includes the work done by Theatre Forum to highlight precarious incomes in the arts, the tireless work of the National Campaign for the Arts to advocate for artists practice, the voices of people like Theo Dorgan, Philip King and Garry Hynes, who came before Oireachtas Committees and spoke so eloquently about the value of the arts. It complements the central role of the Arts Council as the Irish government agency for developing the arts. But mostly it flows from the inherent value of the work of individual artists, work that enriches all of our lives on a daily basis.
I believe that the scheme I am launching here today delivers on the Taskforce’s vision for a basic income for the sector. The scheme has been shaped by repeated rounds of engagement with the sector and relevant stakeholders as was determined since the outset to ensure that the voices of artists and those working in the sector would be heard and valued.
The Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme is a once in a generation, transformational measure in the funding of the arts in Ireland. It will make a strong statement at home and abroad about the value that we as a nation place on artistic practice both for its intrinsic value and in terms of our personal and collective wellbeing, and also in terms of its importance to our identity and cultural distinctiveness on the global stage.
Ireland’s culture in all its uniqueness and variety is the well-spring of our identity as a people. It captures our past, shapes our present and imagines our future. It is this Irishness informed by our arts that we carry with us no matter where we go in the world and it is the thing that makes us recognisable as Irish.
For generations Irish artists have inspired people all over the world like our writers, playwrights and poets such as Seamus Heaney, James Joyce and Enda O’Brien to name but a few. Our famed visual artists like Louis Le Brocquy, Jack B Yeats, and Nora McGuinness. Our renowned musicians like U2, Enya, Hozier and DC Fontaines have worldwide fan bases. Irish film and TV is well recognised on the world stage with recent Oscar nominations for Kenneth Brannagh’s Belfast and for Wolfwalkers last year and the global success of shows like Game of Thrones and globally renowned actors like Saoirse Ronan, Michael Fassbender and Jessy Buckley. The Druid and Abbey stage plays all over the world. It is a significant and impressive artistic heritage which I want to ensure continues.
Delivering this pilot has been a key priority for me as Minister with responsibility for arts and culture and is based on my fundamental belief in the intrinsic value of the arts, culture and creativity. It is critical in my view that we recognise and support artistic practice in all its forms.
What we are proposing to do in Ireland goes further than any other support I know of internationally, in that a basic income will be offered to artists and creative arts workers, not as a social protection support, but instead in recognition of the intrinsic value of artistic practice allowing artists and creatives to focus on their practice and be compensated appropriately for it.
The recent pandemic reinforced the fact that each and every person relies on and leans into the arts during times of need and every person was reminded of the true value of artists and their work during the last two years as we listened to music, read poetry and watched films to get ourselves through those difficult days. And it is the arts that will help us make sense of what happened and help us shape the future. With so much uncertainty in the world now including the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and cost of living increases we need the arts now more than ever to help inspire us to imagine and create a better future for ourselves.
We need artistic nourishment, and equally our artists need sustenance and support. The Basic Income for the Arts, BIA, also the Irish for food, is that very sustenance which will help creatives keep creating.
Tá na healaíona tábhachtach do gach duine againn agus cothóidh agus tacóidh ioncam bunúsach do na healaíona leo.
The pandemic reinforced my belief that we need a new way to support artists, one that recognises the value of work required to develop an arts practice and which addresses the precarious incomes which are all too often a challenge for artists. I am determined to ensure that the pandemic does not do permanent damage to the arts sector. 2,000 participants will be provided with €325 a week for three years to allow them to focus on their creative practice and to facilitate research on the impact this will have on their practice, their wellbeing and the arts sector as a whole.
The guidelines for the scheme setting out the eligibility criteria will be available today on my department’s website and the scheme will open for applications next Tuesday April 12th.
I would encourage all artists and creative arts workers to apply. This is a unique opportunity to research the impact a basic income could have on the arts and to provide the evidence base for a permanent support.
Personally I am privileged to be the Minister in a positon to deliver this pilot and to have secured the government’s commitment for a three year basic income pilot scheme for the arts. We need now to firmly grasp this opportunity which could help to elevate the arts, and the skilled workforce within the sector, to new heights.
This is a watershed moment in the funding of artistic practice in Ireland. It makes a statement about our values as a nation that the voices of artists have been heard and that the arts matter. I might finish with a quote from Sir John Tusa, former director of the Barbican performing arts centre in London who said:
The final value of the arts cannot be predicted or quantified. A nation without arts would be a nation that had stopped talking to itself, stopped dreaming and had lost interest in the past and lacked curiosity about the future.
Go raibh maith agaibh."