Basic income support for artists described as a ‘seismic leap forward’

Some 2,000 artists will be guaranteed a weekly wage of €325 per week

Some 2,000 artists are set to benefit from a €105 million scheme to provide them with a basic income of €325 per week from the State.

More than 9,000 artists applied for the three year pilot scheme, of whom 8,200 were deemed as being eligible to receive the payment. Of those 2,000 were chosen at random to receive the basic income. Ernst & Young has presided over the selection process.

The successful applicants will begin receiving a basic income of €325 per week, backdated to the last week in August. The applicants have not been mean tested. The payment will be taxable but the amount of tax paid will depend on an individual’s personal circumstance. Artists will be allowed to earn other income and the payment is not being means-tested.

Those who will benefit include 707 visual artists, 584 musicians, 204 artists working in film, 184 writers, 173 actors and artists working in theatre, 32 dancers and choreographers, 13 circus artists and 10 architects.


They will be asked to take part in a research project and monitor their output during the pilot.

A further 1,000 applicants, who were unsuccessful, will participate in a control group to facilitate the evaluation of the pilot.

The scheme has been described as a “truly historic day” and a “seismic leap forward " by the Arts Council chair Maureen Kennelly and something the artistic community have been seeking for years.

“This is really a signal that Ireland really values her artists and we see cultural provision as a human right,” she said.

Minister for Arts Catherine Martin acknowledged that many artists will be disappointed not to be included, but she stressed that the three year scheme is a pilot and they may benefit in the future. “It is an important research project over the next three years on the well-being and a positive move as to how Ireland values her artists”.

A basic income for the arts was the principal recommendation of the arts and culture recovery taskforce which was set up by the Minister in 2020 as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic which devastated the livelihoods of many artists and performers. The impact of Covid-19 highlighted the precarious nature of the income of so many artists.

Mr Martin said the programme has the full support of all members of government and has the ability to “fundamentally transform how we support the arts and creativity.”

“The pandemic reinforced the fact that each and every person relies on and leans into the arts during times of need and every person was reminded of the true value of artists and their work during the last two years as we listened to music, read poetry and watched films to get ourselves through those difficult days,” she added

The Minister said the Government is “acutely aware” of how the energy crisis is hitting venues and leading to a rise in ticket prices for events. “It is a whole of society issue and will be a whole of society response. We weren’t found wanting during Covid-19 and we know people are facing extraordinary pressures,” she added.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times