2,000 artists randomly selected to receive weekly payments of €325 through Ireland’s new Basic Income pilot

By: Seoirse Mulgrew 

Culture Minister Catherine Martin has announced that 2,000 grants will be awarded to artists through the new Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme.

Payments of €325 per week will be made to 2,000 eligible artists and creative arts workers over the course of the scheme.

Ms Martin said today is a “historic day” for the arts sector in Ireland and a “significant change” to the way Ireland recognises and supports its artists.

“The Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme is a once-in-a-generation initiative,” she said.

“It makes a strong statement about the value Ireland places on the arts and 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.”

More than 9,000 applications were made under the scheme with over 8,200 assessed as eligible and included in a randomised anonymous selection process.

The group of 2,000 grant participants includes representatives from all art forms, age groups, ethnicities and counties.

This includes 707 visual artists, 584 musicians, 204 artists working in film, 184 writers, 173 actors and artists working in theatre, 32 dancers and choreographers, 13 circus artists and 10 architects. 3pc or 54 of those selected work through the Irish language.

The chair of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce Clare Duignan said the Covid-19 pandemic was “extremely challenging” for artists and creative workers.

Ms Duignan said the pandemic exposed “vulnerabilities which have existed for decades within the Irish arts sector”.

She added that the pilot scheme has the potential to be “genuinely transformative” in terms of the lives of participants and the sustainability of the sector and should “reduce the constant level of uncertainty and insecurity felt by many in the arts sector”.

“Taskforce members unanimously agreed that the establishment of a pilot basic income scheme in the arts, culture, audiovisual and live performance and events sector was our top priority,” she said.

“I am delighted that the first group of successful applicants is being announced today. This is a landmark day, not just for those receiving grants, but also for Ireland, as it is the day that the state formally recognises the financial instability faced by many working in the arts and places a value on the time spent developing a creative practice and producing art.”

Eligibility for the scheme was based on the definition of the arts as contained in the Arts Act 2003, which states that “arts mean any creative or interpretative expression 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”.

Participants in the pilot scheme will take part in a three-year research programme to assess the impact of a basic-income-style payment on the arts sector.

Participants will be required to engage in an ongoing data collection programme to assess the impact of a basic income style payment on artists and their creative practice.

To assist with this, 1,000 eligible applicants who were not selected to receive the payment were selected to participate in a control group to facilitate the evaluation of the pilot.

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