Life Worth Living, the report of the arts and culture recovery task force was published in November 2020. It made ten recommendations. The introduction to the report suggested the establishment of a cross-sectorial implementation group to oversee and monitor the implementation of these recommendations.
Several of the recommendations are in train or have already been implemented. In particular, recommendation No. 4, securing the viability of the live events industry, recommendation No. 6, ensuring the well-being of Ireland’s creative and cultural community and recommendation No. 9, providing more outdoor public spaces for cultural events, are largely implemented. Meanwhile significant work is ongoing with recommendation No. 3, ensuring fair play for the makers of creative content; recommendation No. 7, building sectorial capacity through upskilling and professional development; recommendation No. 8, making space for arts and live entertainment to contribute to national recovery; and recommendation No. 10, addressing the environmental impact of arts, cultural and event activities.
The recommendations included a proposal to pilot a universal basic income scheme for a three-year period in the arts, culture, audiovisual and live performance and events sectors. The task force was of the view that a pilot basic income would keep the sector intact, minimising the loss of skills and contributing to its gradual regrowth, with ongoing benefits, social and economic, local and national. I believe the arts sector represents an appropriate area for a pilot basic income scheme for many reasons. It is characterised by low, precarious and often seasonal income. Artistic and creative work is intrinsically valuable to society.
I have established an oversight group with the remit of addressing the recommendations of the Life Worth Living report, particularly those which are outstanding. The group's membership is drawn from Departments and agencies which have the ability and wherewithal to make appropriate progress on the outstanding recommendations. The oversight group is being chaired by my Department and includes representatives of the Departments of Finance, Social Protection, Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Public Expenditure and Reform as well as Enterprise, Trade and Employment. The directors of the Arts Council and Screen Ireland are also members. They will be joined by a representative of the County and City Managers Association.
I have asked the oversight group to prioritise the examination of recommendation No. 1, a basic income for artists. This is pushing an open door with me. I have engaged with relevant Ministers and colleagues on this matter who have indicated their support for developing this proposal.