Ireland’s innovative Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme gets under way…

Ireland has taken a bold step forward with the establishment of a ground-breaking scheme which aims to encourage and value their artistic communities.

2,000 artists & arts workers have been selected for the Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme, which will run for three years and regular data will be gathered along the way to evaluate the success of the pilot scheme

All those selected to participate will receive €325 per week for 3 years.

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and the Media, Catherine Martin TD, said “This is the beginning of what I hope is a new era for the arts”.

Over 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. 3% or 54 of those selected work through the Irish language.

A basic income for the arts was the number one recommendation of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce which was set up by Minister Martin in 2020 to examine how the sector could adapt and recover from the unprecedented damage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The main objective of the scheme is to address the precarious and financial instability faced by many working in the arts, and to assist the sector recover post-pandemic.

Eligibility for the scheme was 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”.

There were 3 categories under which applicants could apply as follows:

Practising artists;

Creative Arts Workers (defined as someone who has a creative practice or whose creative work makes a key contribution to the interpretation or exhibition of the arts), or

Recently Trained, that is, graduated with a relevant qualification in the past 5 years.

84% of those selected identified as practising artists, 9% identified as Creative Arts Workers and 7% as Recently Trained Applicants.

I wish this pilot scheme every success and am sure it will bring many positive and unexpected benefits to all parts of the artistic equation.

For the rest of the arts communities, it will be a fascinating project to study. After conclusions are drawn, let us hope that the pilot inspires many more such programmes to fully and rightly value our artists and artistic communities.

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