Public Comment Praise Takeover Helps Renew Denver Guaranteed Basic Income Program

Long time readers will be aware that I have been keeping an eye on guaranteed basic income programs in different communities, especially those that are designed to benefit artists.

Recently Denver agreed to renew their program for a second year to benefit unhoused groups. The pilot program had provided funding in different increments to people as part of an attempt to study what approaches were most effective.  I am unclear about whether they have settled on a standard amount to distribute as they move into the second year.

What caught my eye in a Vice article on the topic was the discussion of how the different advocacy groups went about lobbying for the continuation of the program, reversing the new mayor’s rejection of a proposal to renew the program.  Other groups looking to advocate for basic income programs, whether specifically for artists or not, may be able to learn from the Denver groups’ approach.

A coalition of about 20 groups advocated for the funding, including SEIU Local 105, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and Center for People With Disabilities. Advocates attended weekly city council meetings for 12 weeks wearing the color green (for money) and using the public comment period to praise the program.

“The Denver Guaranteed Income Coalition worked together to rally outside the Colorado state capitol, execute a 40-person public comment takeover at a city council meeting, send hundreds of emails to newly elected Mayor Johnston and city council members, and phone bank which resulted in over 2000 calls to Denver residents and subsequently dozens of calls to city council members,”

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 ( 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. (

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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