Sinn Féin secures repurposing of underspend from Minister Martin as Basic Income for Artists is rolled out – Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin today agreed when questioned by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht, Arts and Culture, to his proposal to repurpose the multi-million underspend resulting from the six-month delay to payments of the Basic Income for the Arts.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson welcomed the announcement, saying the money must be used to help struggling artists who failed to secure the Basic Income.
Teachta Ó Snodaigh said:
“I have been seeking clarity for months as to how the unspent portion of the €25 million budget allocation for the Basic Income for the Arts would be spent. Minister Martin’s commitment is welcome.
“It was also welcome to hear that payments have finally started being issued for those lucky enough to be selected for the Basic Income scheme.
“When funding was first announced for the scheme, the Minister promised that payments would begin in April 2022. In the end, applications only opened in April, and roll-out of payments was delayed on three subsequent occasions, leaving artists at their wits end.
“It is great to see delivery at last for what has been described as a ‘game-changer’ for the arts, and Sinn Féin has engaged constructively with workers and creators in the sector as well as with government seeking as best a scheme as possible and for its timely introduction.
“It is important however to recognise that of the 8,000 eligible applicants, the vast majority were not successful and will not be receiving any payments, and because the scheme was set up to be a random allocation, we know selection was not based on need.
“Many others simply did not apply because of a lack of assurances that they wouldn’t be stripped of vital social welfare supports like disability allowance as a result, something Ministers Martin and Heather Humphreys sadly failed to address despite the work of the Disabled Artists Disabled Academics campaign to highlight the injustice.
“I have long been calling for funding to be provided to address the hardship in the arts sector – whether it is individual artists and musicians who have been struggling to put food on the table between the lack of work during Covid and the cost-of-living crisis now, or the arts centres the length and breadth of the country that are in a state of disrepair and not fit for purpose.
“The remainder of the €25 million that was not spent this year – which could be as much as €20 million in available unused funding – could go a long way towards easing those pressures and addressing that need.
“I look forward to seeing the detailed plans promised by Minister Martin, which she has already confirmed 'will support artists, energy supports they need and the issues that affect the arts'.
“This is a validation of what Sinn Féin has been demanding for our artistic community for years.”