Why Artists need a Basic Income Guarantee
According to Human Rights Law- it is every persons’ right to participate in and benefit from the creation of culture…. Article 15 of the covenant ESCR.
It is also every person’s right to choose a livelihood, but the current economic system and its’ real-world effects, making a living from the arts is extremely challenging. The public is in debt and most people can ill afford to pay fair compensation for the enjoyment of the arts. The costs of maintaining venues, studios, rehearsal spaces, travel expenses etc, contribute to the phenomenon of falling incomes for artists and performers. The ease of free access to digital media copies of artistic productions and stagnant and falling incomes make it very challenging to benefit from sales of music and videos etc. Both the artists and their audiences on the local level lack the money and resources required to create and enjoy artistic works. In addition, the time stress and chaos of a precarious labour market hinders the time people can afford to collectively create or enjoy culture.
Meanwhile good jobs are becoming a rarity and more and more people are competing for the kinds of work that have (barely) supported artists in the past. The rise of automation is a reality facing the labour market that will make some form of basic income inevitable, because without money to spend, the economy falls apart.
Artists, of all cultures and heritage are struggling to survive, yet culture is what makes any society worthwhile to live in. The few monoliths of media that buy the rights of and impose control over select artists in exchange for short-term high rewards, benefit very few. The economy of the arts is chaotic, insecure and vastly unequal. The recent Arts Stats 2019 report clearly shows the extent of this reality in Toronto. The fear despair, stress and chronic insecurity plaguing the health of our society is deeply felt in the arts community as well, there are very few supports for artists in crisis, the security of a basic income would allow the arts to flourish.
Artistic and creative labour and many of the skills, abilities and resources required prepare and present the arts to the public cannot be automated. The arts will be one of few remaining, worthwhile forms of human labour over the next few decades, so it is imperative that cultural production is able to provide meaningful and secure livelihoods. To transform the economy and society so that communities can become more resilient and adaptive to the shifting uncertainties of climate change, pollution inequality and other 21st century challenges, will require creativity and innovation on a scale never seen before. We will need the arts to help drive the hope and energy required to recreate our economy for sustainability. A basic income for artists and all people in need of the time and money to be able to benefit from the arts, and achieve their full potential, is a keystone of the foundation of a sustainable future.
EvMC - Evolutionary Music Co-Operative