Irish Equity calls on the Government to commission an independent study on the living and working conditions of artists

Despite the precariousness of working as an artist in Ireland, when asked in a recent survey if they would again choose to work as artists ‘if they were starting over’, an overwhelming majority (i.e. 82%) of Irish artists said yes, with just 6% saying no and 12% unsure. A key reason for this for many artists was the fact that many felt drawn to arts as a ‘vocation’ and that their work provided career and personal fulfilment.

When asked about the factors that had held back their career development as artists, the most cited factor was the lack of financial returns. This was followed by a lack of work opportunities, a lack of time for creative work, a lack of access to funding and other financial supports. A third set of factors revolved around their ability to ‘supply’ arts works, including a desire for more or better space or equipment, more time and more networks of artists.

Working as a professional artist constitutes a difficult and uncertain way to make a living. Despite relatively high levels of education, work patterns are volatile and many artists report leading stressful lives in which they found it hard to obtain or maintain a good work-life balance, and in which periods of unemployment are common. Income levels are low relative to other workers and many report difficulty in making ends meet. The fact that both work and income could be volatile created uncertainty and made planning difficult.

In order to acquire an updated picture of the reality of life for Ireland’s artists including performers and creators of art as we emerge from the economic crisis, it is vital that we develop an accurate study that will provide the information necessary to build a road map for a better future for Artists in Ireland.