Irish Government Will Pay a ‘Basic Income’ to 2000 Artists, DJs Are Skeptical

Jan 11, 2022

Arielle LeJarde

3 min read

As COVID drags on, the music industry continues to battle with uncertainty, especially in nightlife. Before the pandemic, many creatives still couldn’t rely on their craft to pay for basic needs. According to Catherine Martin TD, Irish Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport, and Media, the solution is Basic Income for the Arts. A form of Universal Basic Income.

In a statement on Ireland’s government site, she said, “This is a once-in-a-generation policy intervention, a measure that I believe will redraw the landscape for the arts for hopefully many years to come. Our culture and the arts are a fundamental expression of who we are as a nation. Our rich cultural heritage is one of our greatest assets, and our artists weave a sense of identity, creativity and belonging into the fabric of our communities. 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.”

Ireland will commit about €25 million ($28.3 million) to the program, which it expects to implement in February or March. Two thousand artists, actors, musicians, and other performers are expected to receive a basic income of €10.50, or $11.89  an hour over three years. This is equal to Ireland’s minimum wage. However, the living wage in Ireland (the lowest amount needed to cover basic needs) is €12.90 ($14.61) an hour.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Martin explains, “Obviously this is post the Covid-19 restrictions but the goal here is twofold: it’s to support jobs and businesses in the night-time economy and but also to support the new and emerging acts. We could be looking at music, we could be looking at poetry slam nights, local theatre groups, traditional music, classical music, and of course, our electronic music.”

Venues and cafés expect to receive grants of at least €10,000 “to support hundreds and hundreds of events with new acts” through night-time events. Martin adds, “If we look at how far behind we are, look at Berlin where culture thrives at all hours, why does the city’s heartbeat have to end at midnight or one in the morning.”

Mixmag spoke to Dublin DJ Aiden Thompson about the pilot scheme. He tells the publication, “In my opinion, I would like it to go ahead, however, I’m skeptical about who they’ll deem ‘eligible’ for it.

"Judging from stories from my friends I probably won’t be eligible and instead, the people making large amounts from sales and tours anyway will be those who receive the payment, which I sincerely hope is not the case."

While Thompson is hopeful, he acknowledges that other DJs he knows will “believe it when they see it.”

Irish producer and DJ Air Jackson also commented on Mixmag’s initial report of the online consultation with, “PR spoof and nothing more. The Irish government literally couldn’t care any less about music & arts and it has been this way for decades. Musicians, artists & venues have been thrown under a bus for the past 22 months with little or no supports [sic].”

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