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Irish Basic Income Arts pilot shows positive impact

December 6, 2023

The Irish government approved the trial program in 2021, allocating an initial budget of €25 million ($27 million). Today, the budget for the project is €33.8 million ($37 million) a year, according to the New York Times.

MEDIA RELEASE: Ireland’s Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD, has today welcomed the publication of the first reports compiled from data collected as part of the Basic Income for the Arts (BIA) pilot scheme.

“I believe that the scheme and the research program will have a significant impact on the way Ireland supports artists in the future,” Martin, a former singer and street performer, added. “This is truly innovative on a global level and I hope that other countries will follow Ireland’s lead.”

Minister Catherine Martin said:

“Delivery of this pilot scheme has been a key priority for me. I am reassured from the findings, which demonstrate that artists and creative arts workers in receipt of the payment are experiencing less anxiety and depression, spending more time working in their chosen fields, and investing more in their arts career. It shows that the scheme has had a positive impact during the first six months of payments and has the potential to transform creative practice.”

Ireland’s Basic Income for the Arts, a 3-year pilot project, published the interim Impact Assessment (6-month) today and is available here. It outlines changes to date that the BIA recipients have experienced within the first 6 months of receiving the payment. Similar reports will be published tracking the changes throughout the 3-year pilot research scheme.

Payments of €325 per week are being made to artists and creative arts workers in the Treatment Group over the course of the scheme.

Initial findings from the post-intervention report:

– Each week, BIA recipients spend one and a half hours more on research and experimentation, one hour more on management and administration, and one hour more presenting to audiences compared to the control group, i.e. 3.5 additional hours on their creative practice per week.

– BIA recipients decreased the weekly amount of time spent working in another sector by 3 hours compared to the control group.

– BIA recipients are 12 percentage points more likely than the control group to be able to sustain themselves through arts work alone.

– Depression and anxiety experienced in the previous 4 weeks decreased by almost 10 percentage points for BIA recipients compared to the control group.

Read the full report here.

In late 2021, San Francisco gave 100 local artists a $1,000 monthly stipend. In 2022, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched a three-year $125 million initiative to give $1,000 a month to 2,400 to artists across New York state.

In Canada, 75,000 artists united calling for a basic income. The Case for Basic Income and the Arts campaign included a public letter signed and endorsed by many of the largest arts and culture organizations in Canada and many prominent talents. The letter calls on the federal government to think outside the box and implement a “basic income program that guarantees an income floor to anyone in need.” In the pandemic’s wake, Canada can rise from the disease, hardships, and ruptures in social behaviour with a basic income. “The opportunity for change is here and now,” write the letter’s co-authors: Craig Berggold, Zainub Verjee and Clayton Windatt.

To mark the launch of The Case for Basic Income and the Arts campaign, George Elliot Clarke, the 7th Parliamentary/Canadian Poet Laureate composed the poem On Basic Income and performed at the opening event. The poem provides a glimpse of the solitude and unexpected hardship, through no fault of their own, felt by many artists:

“The economy’s an abyss whose bottom is a grave,

And each tightrope walker wobbles as a mere wage-slave.

And those who free fall, screaming, screeching, as they go,

Clutching for handholds or toeholds, only hope to slow, …”  

“It’s time for a basic income,” say Canadian talent from coast to coast to coast: from the North’s Gwaandak Theatre, the Acadian artists in New Brunswick, the Conseil québécois du théâtre; Toronto’s South Asian Visual Arts Centre; Alberta’s celebrated Kehewin Native Dance TheatreI.A.T.S.E.’s 35,000 stage and film technicians; the Canadian Federation of Musicians; the visual artists union of CARFAC; the francophone Fédération culturelle canadienne-française; the Canadian Actors’ Equity; to opera singer Adrianne Pieczonka, Order of Canada; and writer Judy Rebick; and filmmaker John Greyson, and many more…