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The Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin. Photo: Giuseppe Milo.
The Samuel Beckett Bridge in Dublin. Photo: Giuseppe Milo.

Ireland to Launch Universal Basic Income Program for Artists

Catherine Martin, Ireland’s minister of tourism, culture, arts, Gaeltacht, sport and media, on January 6 initiated an online consultation aimed at soliciting opinions regarding the creation of a basic income plan for a number of the country’s artists. The scheme, which Martin described as a “once-in-a-generation policy intervention,” is meant to assist those working in the fields of arts, culture, audio-visual, and live performance and events who suffered economically as the global Covid-19 crisis surged in-country.

The program will cover two thousand arts and culture workers for a span of three years. The government has earmarked €25 million ($28.3 million) for the plan, which is expected to go into force later this winter. The online consultation runs through January 27 and follows on a report from a task force assembled by Martin last year to wrestle with the problem of how best to assist those in the culture sector. The committee’s top recommendation was the creation of a basic income pilot program that would award selected arts workers €10.50 ($11.90) per hour.

Currently at issue are eligibility and the process by which recipients will be selected. The ministry has said there will be no means test and that the process will be noncompetitive. If the number of applicants exceeds the number of  income awards available, selection will be randomized. At present, payments are proposed to be issued weekly, with total income yet to be determined.

Martin emphasized the importance of aiding artists in continuing their work. “The minister is conscious of the value that this sector brings to all Irish citizens,” said her office in a statement. “The importance of Irish culture, Irish art and Irish productions as a whole cannot be understated—it contributes to individual and societal well-being, as well as contributing to Ireland’s reputation as a country with a rich cultural history and output.”

In launching a universal basic income program for artists, Ireland joins San Francisco, which established a similar, though less lengthy, initiative in 2020.