- 26 Mar 21
"On an island that is famed around the globe for the artistic mind and soul of its small population of people, it's time our artists (a third of who live on less than minimum wage), aren't continually thrown to the wolves and neglected or exiled to foreign lands," Dempsey writes.
The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD has been praised by Damien Dempsey, for her support of a Universal Basic Income pilot for creatives in Ireland – which she voiced in a piece published in The Journal on Saturday evening.
In the article, Minister Martin writes:
"The Arts and Culture Recovery Taskforce – which I set up to look at solutions – published a report last November in which it recommended a Universal Basic Income (UBI) pilot targeted at the arts.
"Their report, A Life Worth Living, outlines a mechanism for a basic income pilot for the sector, that would be a scalable initiative and envisioned to last a period of three years, in order to allow for a detailed examination of the impact."
She goes on to note that "there is an existing commitment in the Programme for Government to initiate a trial UBI within the lifetime of this coalition government."
"That guarantee was secured by the Green Party during coalition negotiations last year, which I personally oversaw as deputy leader," she adds. "UBI has also been a core policy of the Green Party for many years."
Elsewhere in the piece, the Minister points out why the arts sector is suitable for the pilot scheme: "It is characterised by low, precarious and often seasonal income; artistic and creative work is also intrinsically valuable to society; it includes a broad mix of employment types and it has also been chose for UBI pilots in other jurisdictions."
In response to the Minister, renowned singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey shared his own statement on Twitter.
"Meas mór, huge respect to Irish Arts Minister Catherine Martin," he begins, "for proposing a Universal Basic Income Pilot for dedicated Irish Artists for the next 3 years, a creative community that has for many years been... squeezed out of Ireland, their Mother, their muse, by the crazy costs of a roof, and more recently been totally devastated by this pandemic, suffering more than the majority of sectors.
"If you believe and feel that Art is expendable, don't watch your TV again, don't listen to any music on your phone or the radio, and don't read the newspaper or any books," he continues. "Never go to a gig, play, panto, disco or the cinema again. You'll have great craic altogether."
He goes on to stress the importance of art in all of our lives, and argues that, "On an island that is famed around the globe for the artistic mind and soul of its small population of people, it's time our artists (a third of who live on less than minimum wage), aren't continually thrown to the wolves and neglected or exiled to foreign lands."
"Fingers cross Minister Catherine Martin's dream manifests," he concludes. "Art plays a bigger part than we think."
Read Damien Dempsey's full statement below:
— Damien Dempsey (@DamoDempsey) March 24, 2021