If we value artists, we should pay them benefits

Speaking of “How Authors Make Money,” this insightful look into the problems of new creatives of all kinds is from The Guardian in the UK. But its message is as universal as its reasoning is sound.

Britain’s creative industries are packed with people from privileged backgrounds. It doesn’t have to be that way
by Penny Anderson

From September, artists in Ireland will be permitted one year on unemployment benefit without having to look for work, to allow for time to pursue their practice, rehearse, or develop a portfolio. Keep in mind that the country’s equivalent of jobseeker’s allowance is worth £168.50 per week even before rent payments are added (in the UK it’s £73.10) meaning that even one year provides valuable security. That time, quite simply, will take the heat off.

The scheme was announced by the minister for employment affairs and social protection, Regina Doherty, who stated: “In Ireland, we hold a very special place for the arts and I hope that through this initiative we can create some breathing space for creative people to flourish.”

If only we could do something similar here. Well, we used to, with the old-school enterprise allowance. Countless musicians, actors, artists and dancers benefited from this scheme, as they were able to start a new business, while being entitled to the equivalent of jobseeker’s allowance, without having to seek other work for one year.

That compares to the current situation where under the terminal basket-case known as universal credit, claimants – including artists – must spend 35 hours per week “work-seeking”, rather than “art-making”. There is a massive drawback to treating art as any other job. “Cultural industries” (and once again with feeling, all artists hate that phrase) generate plenty of income for the nation, while also encouraging tourism.

But not all artistic output can be sold, nor does everything arty generate income for its owner and maker – especially more challenging work, such as performance or conceptual art….

Read it all at theguardian.com