What feels like an age ago, I reported on the story in ALLi's News column that Ireland was trialing paying a basic income to creative people (the BIA, Basic Income for Artists, scheme) and seeing what happened. The scheme pays 325 Euros a week to 2000 people working in the creative arts, selected from over 8000 by a lottery.
This week I came across a fascinating story that takes an in-depth look at some of the results. The headline makes it very clear what at least part of the picture is. Without worrying where the next pay cheque is coming from, artists can devote their time to their art. The context in which many find themselves helps understand why people feel freed in this way.
Remember one of the figures I brought you last week. 74% of translators have a job alongside their creative work. And author income surveys show a similar picture. Income from our art is not nothing. But for many if not most it is not enough to dedicate ourselves to writing, painting, whatever our art is, full time. For some it will be a choice to do other work alongside, an enrichment of our art. For others it is a necessity that detracts from our art. For those in the latter category, a basic income might make up the difference in a way that frees a huge amount of potential.
There is far more in the story than I have space to report on here, so I highly recommend you read it in full, but one figure stood out. A survey of those in the arts showed that BIA participants were nearly 20% less likely than their counterparts to report struggling to make ends meet.
I also want to draw your attention to a call we’ve had for volunteers at Sydney writers’ Festival. This is one of the most exciting festivals on the literary calendar, and runs from May 20-30. Volunteers will get free or discounted tickets for the festival. You can find out and volunteer on this link.