Minister Hosts Forum on Basic Income for the Arts

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin

Minister Hosts Forum on Basic Income for the Arts

€25m allocated for first year of pilot scheme set to start in early 2022.

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin has hosted a forum on the proposed Basic Income for the Arts in order to obtain feedback from the arts community.

Representatives from over fifty arts, music and theatre organisations attended the online meeting yesterday (15 December) at which the Department presented a discussion document with its current thinking on how the Basic Income for Artists pilot will work.

‘This is a once in a generation policy intervention,’ Minister Martin said at the meeting, ‘a measure that I believe will redraw the landscape for the arts for hopefully many years to come.’ She added:

The intrinsic societal value of culture and the arts was particularly evident during the pandemic, where it provided colour, light and hope in uncertain times. … €25m has been allocated to pilot a basic income scheme for artists, which is a fundamental priority for me and my Department. 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 is in fact part of the response to ensure the arts in Ireland come back stronger than ever.

Proposals and aims
The Department made a point of noting that the Basic Income for the Arts (BIA) pilot, which is for artists and creative arts workers, is not the same as the Universal Basic Income (UBI), which would be for all of society and was agreed as part of the Programme for Government in 2020. It says that the two are ‘individual and separate projects’. The Low Pay Commission has been asked by the Government to examine the UBI

Regarding the BIA pilot, which is set to begin in early 2022 for a three-year period, the briefing document says that the aims of the scheme are ‘To give recognition to the intrinsic value of the arts in Irish society’, ‘to provide financial support for practicing artists’ and ‘To enable artists and creative arts workers to focus on artistic production/practice without having to enter into employment in other sectors to sustain themselves.’ It also says that it wants the scheme to help ‘minimise the loss of skill and experience from the arts sector.’

The Department added it will be necessary to administer a secondary stream for emerging and developing artists.

Regarding eligibility, the Department suggests that this could be through membership of a recognised organisation (e.g. Musicians Union of Ireland/SIPTU, Actors’ Equity, Dance Ireland) or through applicants self-certifying with supporting documents.

The BIA is specifically for artists and ‘creative arts workers’, the latter defined as those whose work is ‘intrinsic to and makes a key contribution to the production or exhibition/display of artwork’. The Department adds: ‘The input provided by workers in this category is intrinsically creative. This differentiates creative art workers from other supporting workers, whose input is better categorised as administrative, organisational, security, hospitality and so on.’

Number of places 
The discussion document does not mention the number of places on the pilot scheme, but in October the Minister mentioned the figure of two thousand. If the number of applicants exceeds the places available, the Department will use  randomising software to determine the participants. The proposed rate of payment is the current hourly minimum wage of €10.50 per hour.

At the meeting yesterday, after a number of speakers and break-out sessions, the representatives from arts organisations were asked to provide feedback on all of the above proposals. The Department intends to commence an online public consultation in early January also and a policy paper will be published after all feedback is assessed. The Department says that the BIA pilot scheme will be launched in the first three months of 2022. 

For the full list of participants in the Forum, see below. For more, visit

Arts organisations in attendance at the BIA Forum on 15 December 2021
Actors Equity/SIPTU/MU
Age and Opportunity
Animation Ireland
Arts and Disability Ireland (ADI)
Arts Council
Association of Irish Composers (AIC)
Association of Irish Stage Technicians
Association of Local Arts Officers
Business to Arts
Centre for Creative Practices
Children’s Books Ireland (CBI)
Contemporary Music Centre (CMC)
Dance Ireland
Design and Crafts Council of Ireland
Drive for Change
Events Industry Ireland (EIA)
First Music Contact (FMC)
Harp Ireland
Improvised Music Company (IMC)
Irish Architecture Foundation
Irish Society of Stage and Screen Designers
Irish Street Arts, Circus & Spectacle Network
Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation (IVARO)
Irish Writers Centre
Irish Writers Union
Life Worth Living Oversight Group
Life Worth Living Taskforce Mothers Artist Makers
Mothership Project
Music & Entertainment Association Of Ireland (MEAI)
Music Network Ireland
Na Píobairí Uilleann
National Campaign for the Arts
Opera Ireland
Poetry Ireland
PRAXIS – the Artists Union of Ireland
Screen Composers Guild of Ireland
Screen Directors Guild of Ireland
Screen Guilds of Ireland
Screen Ireland
Screen Producers Ireland
The Irish Society of Stage and Screen Designers
Theatre Forum
Trad Ireland/Traid Éireann
Údarás na Gaeltachta
Visual Artists Ireland
Wedding Band Association
Words Ireland
Writers Guild of Ireland

Published on 16 December 2021

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