What Impact Can Guaranteed Basic Income Have On Art?

In case you missed it, somethings to keep an eye on over the next two years or so are the guaranteed income program for artists that have been established in St. Paul and San Francisco.  The NY Times reported on these efforts today. In San Francisco, 130 artists will receive $1000 for the next six months from the city  In St. Paul, Springboard for the Arts will be providing $500 to 25 artists over the next 18 months.

An article on MinnPost has more details about the St. Paul program:

Springboard’s pilot program will provide direct, no-strings-attached cash support to artists affected by the pandemic. It will explore the impact of guaranteed income on artists, culture bearers and creative workers at a neighborhood level. And “it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and advocate nationally that culture makers need to be included in the work to make our economy more equitable and just,” Springboard Executive Director Laura Zabel said in a statement.

Recipients will be selected at random from an eligible pool of artists who have received support from Springboard’s Emergency Relief Fund. At least 75 percent will be Black, Native and/or people of color.

Just last month the results studying the first year of Stockton, CA efforts at providing $500/month to 125 residents for 24 months were released. According to the NPR story,

Among the key findings outlined in a 25-page white paper are that the unconditional cash reduced the month-to-month income fluctuations that households face, increased recipients’ full-time employment by 12 percentage points and decreased their measurable feelings of anxiety and depression, compared with their control-group counterparts.

The study also found that by alleviating financial hardship, the guaranteed income created “new opportunities for self-determination, choice, goal-setting, and risk-taking.”

Obviously, it will be interesting to see what the results of providing creatives with a basic guaranteed income over a period of time. One obvious positive benefit would be if it encouraged the same risk-taking that it did with participants in Stockton’s program, though with artistic choices moreso than life decisions.

I am sure there will be some unanticipated outcomes as well. Stockton’s program was described as having a ripple effect because it general improved and removed pressure from the lives of those the income recipients depended for food and other necessities.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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