Coronavirus: Calls for artists to get a ‘guaranteed state income’

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Organisations including the Wales Millennium Centre have made redundancies

Welsh artists should get a guaranteed income from the state to rescue them from the impact of the pandemic, the future generations commissioner has said.

Sophie Howe said a “safety net” system would tie payments to a commitment to provide work for the public good.

Many freelance performers and technical crew lost work due to Covid-19.

The Welsh Government said the £53m of emergency funding included a “cultural contract”.

People working in the arts and creative industries have been badly affected by the pandemic, with film sets closed down and many theatres unlikely to reopen until 2021.

Wales Millennium Centre said it would lose £20m of commercial income while its doors are closed, and has made redundancies as part of efforts to remain afloat until it can begin reopening next year.

Sophie Howe said a guaranteed basic income would not be a grant.

“Think of that as ‘something for something’. If you are getting money from the state to help sustain your income, what are you going to give back to the public good?” she said.

“And I know there are thousands of creative professionals out there who would be so keen to do that, and hundreds of public services who could benefit.”

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Pianist and composer Ify Iwobi said she had lost 80% of her income

Pianist and composer Ify Iwobi, from Swansea, said she had lost the majority of her income after cancelling her calendar of concerts and events with her eight-piece band.

The 26-year-old also had to shelve plans to move out of her parents’ home.

She has welcomed the idea of a basic state income for creative professionals.

“Eighty per cent of my income has totally gone. It is so difficult when you rely on performances to fund you, and it has totally disappeared,” she said.

Asked about a guaranteed basic income, she said: “Oh my gosh, that would be so helpful. Because we would be receiving another sort of help to fund our career. It is our lives, for musicians. It is our livelihood, it’s our joy, it is our everything.

“If there was some way that government could do something to help us and aid us in that way, it would mean the world and I would be so grateful.”

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