Sinn Féin spokesperson on Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD welcomed today’s launch of the Basic Income for Artists pilot scheme by government, and the news that the scheme will finally be opened to applications from 12 April.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“Artists whose livelihoods have been decimated by the pandemic have been waiting to see progress on this scheme for over a year since it was first recommended by the Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce.
“While this sample pilot will only benefit a select few, rather than all artists as was originally proposed, and despite coming several months later than promised, this is a welcome development that will ensure vital funding for 2,000 artists and arts workers at a time when they need it most.
“I would like to commend all those involved in getting it over the line, including Minister Catherine Martin and officials in the Department for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and the National Campaign for the Arts in particular, for the work they have put in over the past few years to see this come to fruition.
“My Sinn Féin colleagues and I have been working constructively with this proposal since it was first put forward.
“I am glad to see that a number of the concerns raised both by us and by the participants in the stakeholder consultation forum before Christmas have been listened to in the guidelines that have been published today, particularly around eligibility and the numbers involved.
“Certain key questions remain, however, and with only a week left before applications open, we need answers to those urgently.
“For example, there is no mention of artists with disabilities in the information published online today.
“That is despite the Disabled Artists and Disabled Academics (DADA) campaign highlighting the way in which they may be effectively excluded from participation or placed at a further disadvantage relative to their peers if forced to choose between the scheme and vital disability supports like allowances to help meet the Cost of Disability, medical cards or housing supports.
“I understand the Minister provided a degree of reassurance on this to journalists at her press conference this morning, but that clarity and the implications of participation on disability supports needs to be made explicit for potential applicants as a matter of urgency.
“Clarity is also needed on how the scheme will ensure the random sample chosen is representative of the diversity of art forms within the sector and takes account of demographic and regional balances, particularly given that we do not have accurate statistics for the arts sector at present.
“Another big question that arises is what will the Department be doing over the coming three years to support the post-pandemic recovery for artists and arts workers who are eligible but are not selected for this scheme.
“With the cost of living crisis on top of the devastation wreaked by Covid, these artists and workers, particularly those less well off, cannot be left behind.
“In the meantime, I would encourage all eligible artists to apply.”