Groundbreaking Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme grants awarded

September 8, 2022

Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and the Media, Catherine Martin, today announced the awarding of 2,000 grants for artists and creative arts workers through the new Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme.

Speaking on the announcement of the grants Minister Martin, said: “Today is an historic day for the arts in Ireland and a significant change to the way Ireland recognises and supports her artists. The Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme is a once-in-a-generation initiative. 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.”

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:

1. Practising artists;

2. 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

3. 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.

Clare Duignan, Chair of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce, added: “COVID-19 was extremely challenging for artists and creative workers, exposing vulnerabilities which have existed for decades within the Irish 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. 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. This pilot 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. I hope that it also gives recipients announced today an increased sense of self-worth and facilitates risk-taking and experimentation in their practice. It should help them to develop and grow the quality of their artistic output, allowing them to contribute to broader Irish society both socially and economically.”

Minister Catherine Martin added: “The 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 huge cost of living increases, we need the arts more than ever to help inspire us to imagine and create a better future for ourselves. The Basic Income for the Arts pilot, an initiative endorsed by the whole government, has the potential to fundamentally transform how we support the arts and creativity. Ireland could lead the way on a new model to support people active in the sector, recognising its importance to all people. I know that there will be a lot of disappointed people today who applied and didn’t get selected. I am very grateful to everyone who took the time to apply and I understand their disappointment. I want to thank everyone who took the time to apply and congratulate those who have been selected to take part. I look forward to seeing the results of the research which I hope will underpin future government policy for the arts.”

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

Information on the eligibility criteria and guidelines for the pilot scheme.

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