“Feels Like A Luxury To Feel Valued”

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.”

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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