Ireland has introduced its first basic income program for the nation’s artists and culture workers, offering sorely needed relief for a sector hit hard by the pandemic. On January 6, Catherine Martin, the Irish Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, opened an online consultation to solicit opinions and proposals on the development of the pilot program. In a statement, Martin described it as a “once-in-a-generation policy intervention.”
“I am determined to ensure that permanent damage is not done to the arts sector from the pandemic and that the basic income pilot scheme helps to ensure that the arts in Ireland come back stronger than ever,” she added.
The government has allocated €25 million ($28.3 million) to be distributed among two thousand arts and culture workers and venues over three years. The online consultation closes January 27, while the program is expected to launch later this year, with an exact date forthcoming. The basic income pilot was the leading recommendation of a task force assembled by Martin in 2020 to devise solutions to the financial fallout in the arts from the coronavirus. The initial report from the committee suggested an allotment of €10.50 ($11.90) per hour to selected arts workers.
Currently under assessment is the eligibility and process for selecting artists. According to the ministry, the process will not be competitive. If the number of applicants exceeds the available funding, awardees will be randomly selected. Weekly payments have been proposed, though exact details have yet to be determined.
Ireland’s initiative follows a similar scheme launched by San Francisco in October. Under the city’s universal basic income program, $6 million was earmarked for $1,000 monthly stipends for up to 130 artists and cultural workers. Recipients will receive their first disbarments in early 2022, with monthly payment to continue for at least six months.