€250 euro a week to be given to artists for three years

Claire Young

The Department of Arts and Tourism announced a Basic Income for Artists scheme which will be open for applications from 2000 artists. 

The BIA scheme will provide artists with the minimum wage over the course of three years, in order to enable them to focus on their artform. 

Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media launched an online consultation on the pilot scheme earlier this year in order to receive feedback from those within the arts industry and the general public. 

“The intrinsic societal value of culture and the arts was particularly evident during the pandemic, where it provided colour, light and hope in uncertain times,” Martin said. 

Following the degradation of the arts sector during the pandemic, Taoiseach Micheál Martin established the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce in 2020. 

The taskforce published the “Life Worth Living Report,” which supported a basic income scheme as its number one priority. 

“The livelihoods of many artists and creative workers are threatened. Careers that have taken decades to build, are in serious jeopardy,” according to the report. 

The Taoiseach has allocated €25 million euro for the project and applications are set to open this year. 

“I am determined to ensure that permanent damage is not done to the arts sector from the pandemic and that the basic income pilot scheme helps to ensure that the arts in Ireland come back stronger than ever,” he said in a statement in January. 

Those in the arts, culture, audiovisual and live performance and events sectors will all be eligible for the scheme. 

Over the course of the pandemic, 67% of theatres, art centres and venues said that they let people go in 2020 and a projected 800 jobs were cut, according to Review of Pay and Conditions in the Performing Arts in Ireland 2019 and 2020. 

Prior to the pandemic in 2019, “33% of artists, makers and creative practitioners relied on temporary work outside the arts to top up their income,” said the report. 

In 2020 only 15% of artists were able to make their income through this method as a result of the pandemic and over half of these artists were not eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Payments.

“In 2019, 91% of artists, makers and creative practitioners earned less than the national average earnings for all employees of €40,2831,” according to the report and 22% earned less than minimum wage.

Claire Young