Last month, NextCity had something of a preliminary update on the guaranteed income for artists programs in San Francisco, CA and St. Paul, MN I wrote about last April.
Both programs started in May so they are only a few months into their planned 18 month arc. According to the NextCity article, there are groups advocating for St. Petersburg, FL to be the third community to participate in this pilot program. NextCity explains that the policy differences between guaranteed income and the related universal basic income: “…guaranteed income providing an equity lens to focus on communities disproportionately impacted by COVID and decades of economic divestment.”
They spoke to artists in both communities to gauge their impressions of the program thus far:
Both Watts and Gamble spoke to using the cash for basic needs — rent, bills, home repairs. “I don’t have to struggle to create,” as Watts put it. They also spoke to the importance of the easy, straightforward application process and the promise that funding would be unrestricted. “I would have not said yes if there were strings attached,” Gamble says.
Most importantly, the artists say, they feel valued after an incredibly difficult pandemic year. “I feel like people just don’t understand how hard [the pandemic] has hit artists — the arts just went away for over a year,” says Gamble. “It almost feels like a luxury to feel valued, because it usually feels like there’s never enough funds for artists.”