How does basic income support artistic and creative work?

The issues:

  • Artistic and creative work adds economic value to society, but it is often valued only for its potential contribution to economic growth.
  • Artistic and creative work is also intrinsically valuable, but this receives little recognition. There is also a narrow appreciation of the contribution of art and creativity to social and individual development
  • Those who make artistic and creative work their chief occupation often experience income insecurity, cash-flow problems, even poverty. There is often pressure to ‘get a real job’ or to do commercially valued work, in order to earn a living. Financial stress can impede creativity
  • If an artist takes a ‘real job’ in order to earn money, it is usually difficult to find time and energy for the artistic and creative work. For those not currently engaged in artistic or creative activities, the need to earn money may mean there is little time or energy left to learn artistic skills or to develop their creative capacities
  • Many full-time artists and creative workers are dependent on grants or patronage, which may not support the kinds of work they want to do. This may result in an unfulfilled passion or a sense that one cannot make the contribution one is capable of or would like to make
  • Some artists and creative workers are supported by family members, which may put financial strain on those providing the support.
  • Those who engage full time in low-paid or non-paid artistic and creative work may end up putting the rest of life ‘on hold’, in order to prioritise artistic or creative activity.

How basic income can help:

  • Basic income is not payment for artistic and creative work. It is recognition of everybody’s need for financial security, regardless of the kind of work they do
  • With basic income, everyone engaged in artistic and creative work has a small regular and unconditional cash flow and can make financial plans. There is no need to apply for social welfare or prove eligibility for benefits, in times when no money is coming in from work
  • Individual basic financial security reduces personal dependency on family members, grant committees and other patrons. The other people in one’s life also have a basic income, so they are not ‘dependent’ in the way they might be now. In all, this frees up time and reduces stress for everyone, which in turn is good for creativity and learning
  • Basic income increases freedom to practice all kinds of art and creative activities, including work that is of deep personal interest, or of direct social benefit. It reduces pressures to pursue work that is commercially viable
  • Basic income increases opportunities for everybody to try out creative and artistic activities and to include them in the range of work they do, whether that be full- or part-time, as professional or amateur, paid or unpaid.

What basic income does not do:

Basic income is not a panacea. It will not automatically create a greater appreciation of the value and range of artistic and creative work. Society as a whole needs to create such an appreciation. If we wish to have a society that values art and creativity as intrinsic activities, and as activities that are of social and personal benefit, we need to have active public conversations about these issues. Basic income has a part to play in a wider attempt to give art and creativity the support and recognition they deserve.