Ireland launches universal basic income program for artists

Catherine Martin, Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media launched an online consultation on January 6th to seek views on the creation of a basic income plan for a number of the country’s artists. The program, which Martin described as a “one-off political intervention in a generation,” aims to support those who work in the arts, culture, audiovisual media, and live performances and events who have suffered economically from the global Covid-19 -Crisis broke out in the country.

The program is aimed at two thousand artists and cultural workers over a period of three years. The government has allocated 25 million euros ($ 28.3 million) to the plan, which is scheduled to go into effect later this winter. The online consultation runs until January 27th and follows a report by a task force that Martin put together last year to look at how best to help cultural workers. The main recommendation of the committee was the creation of a pilot basic income program that grants selected artists € 10.50 per hour.

The current issue is eligibility and the process by which recipients are selected. The ministry has announced that there will be no means test and that the process is not competitive. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of available income awards, the selection will be made at random. A weekly payout is currently proposed, with the total income yet to be determined.

Martin emphasized the importance of supporting artists in continuing their work. “The Minister is aware of the value this sector brings to all Irish citizens,” her office said in a statement. “The importance of Irish culture, Irish art and Irish productions as a whole cannot be underestimated – it contributes to individual and societal well-being as well as Ireland’s reputation as a country with a rich cultural history and production.”

With the launch of a universal basic income program for artists, Ireland is joining San Francisco, which launched a similar, albeit less lengthy, initiative in 2020.

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