I welcome todays announcement that 64 grants for artists and creative arts workers have been awarded in Laois, Offaly and Westmeath through the once-in-a-generation Basic Income for the Arts Pilot Scheme.
I am delighted that 64 Midlands based artists are to benefit from the scheme in the Midlands. In my own constituency 25 artists in Laois, 16 in Offaly and 23 in Westmeath have been awarded the Basic income for the Arts Pilot Scheme. This is a huge opportunity for any artist to flourish creatively, safe in the knowledge that they are financially secure. Many working in the Arts Sector live from gig to gig, commission to commission with no real security. Trialling a basic income in the sector will allow these artists to fully engage with their creative practices with the security of income certainty.
My Green Party colleague, Minister Catherine Martin, has led the way to trial this within the arts. As Minister for the Arts at an incredibly challenging time for the sector, it has been her mission to support our artists - not just to survive the difficulties of Covid, but to really thrive. The learnings from this pilot will inform how we can continue to sustain and grow Ireland’s reputation for punching above our weight in creative talent and output.
2,000 artists and creative arts workers were awarded grants across the country as part of a three year pilot scheme. Recipients will receive €325 per week, paid on a monthly basis, as part of a research project on the impact of a basic income. Over 9,000 applications were made under the scheme and awardees were selected through a randomised anonymous selection process.
Green Party Deputy Leader and Minister for the Arts, Catherine Martin TD Minister Martin, who has been a driving force within government in securing the pilot scheme for artists, said;
“This is an historic day for the arts in Ireland. I am delighted that we are leading the way internationally with this pioneering pilot scheme to support artists and creative arts workers. We are a country with a rich heritage in the arts and this pilot recognises the need for security and supports to be in place in order to retain the abundance of talent and experience in this country. 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.”
The 2,000 grant recipients includes representatives from all art forms, age groups, ethnicities and countries including 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 Life Worth Living Report which was set up by Minister Catherine Martin in 2020 to examine how the sector could adapt and recover from the unprecedented damage arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. A stakeholder consultation forum was held on the issue in December 2021 at which over 150 participants from 50 representative and resource organisations in the arts and culture sector attended.