There’s much talk about at the moment about funding artists to just be artists.
There was an article in the Irish Times saying that Ireland were going to pay a select number of “creatives” around €300 a week https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/it-s-a-game-changer-for-us-artists-welcome-guaranteed-basic-income-plan-1.4699820
And wouldn’t this be just marvellous? To be able to just get on with it. To be honest I’d be thrilled with that amount per month… but to have an amount you could actually live off while you get to grips with building your body of work and your audience in a meaningful way would be mind blowing. It has an immediate impact on the artist, but an incredible effect on our society too, that artists are valued, and contribute to the way we live our best lives. A couple of days later I saw this cartoon on Facebook and snorted my tea.
There are so many justifications one has to make about audience, and community participation when applying for funding, it’s a real skill writing the bid for art work that doesn’t immediately engage people who don’t usually encounter contemporary art. You know what? I’m 60 years old. I have spent my entire working life engaging children in and out of school, students, rich middle aged women, poor single parents, people with mental health issues, old people in hospitals… I’ve done my community time thanks.
The work I want to make now is mine. I want to intellectually and creatively engage with other artists in order to develop myself. I no longer feel the need to explain my work to an eight year old. I just want to get on with it.
I am extremely fortunate that I can just about financially manage to do this, with occasional very welcome support from ACE, and ongoing support from my family. But a universal basic income would be terrific for my state of mind, my sense of independence, and would extend my scope- I could travel more, and work with the artists I would love to work with, who happen to live in other parts of the country, and the rest of the world. I have these contacts, but am unable to access the opportunities fully.
I somehow doubt this current government would even consider UBI, and as I get older I doubt I will ever see such a thing before my own state pension kicks in. But I can dream right? And keep writing to my (Conservative) MP, and sign petitions…
I’m old enough to remember the one good thing Margaret Thatcher did… the Enterprise Allowance Scheme… which gave self employed people an income to develop their work – including artists, comedians and musicians… maybe I’ll write another letter to my MP, she might listen to a Thatcherite proposal, but I never thought I’d be recommending one!