Unions say artists basic income scheme a positive development but more clarity needed

Unions representing performance workers, SIPTU, Irish Equity and the MUI, have welcomed the announcement today (Tuesday, 5th April) of a Basic Income for the Arts pilot scheme which will provide a security of income for three years for up to 2,000 participants. 

The scheme announced by Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin, will provide for a weekly payment of €325 to successful applicants in order to support practicing artists and creative arts workers. 

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Michelle Quinn, said: “A pilot of a Universal Basic Income scheme for the sector was promised in the Programme for Government and also in the report of the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce published in November 2020. We welcome that this will now come into being at a time when the creative sector is only beginning to emerge from the negative impact of the pandemic. However, our members and the wider Arts community, who are not selected for the pilot scheme would like further information on when to expect the introduction of a Basic Income for all of those in the Arts and await to see how this scheme will work and what will happen to participants when the pilot project comes to an end.

“During the somewhat truncated consultation process relating to the creation of this scheme, we also raised a number of issues in relation to accessibility for artists with disabilities. The operation of the scheme will hopefully provide us with clarity on how it will deal with accessibility issues in practice.”

She added: “The pandemic restrictions had a massively negative impact on the Arts, particularly for those in the live performance sector. The Government supported artists over the past two years, which provides the basis on which to rebuild a sector which is of crucial importance to our society and the wider economy. Our members expect that the pilot scheme announced today can assist with the recovery of the Arts in Ireland and they will work with the Government to ensure it is a success.”