Basic income and artists

Perhaps the most important point in our recent study of trends and conditions facing artists today is that the issues facing artists are systemic and structural. As Laura Zabel from Springboard for the Arts points out in her essay for the project research blog, ” In survey after survey, artists say what they need is income, health care, reliable housing. You know who else needs those things? Everybody. What if we could actually change how our larger economy works so that the need for artist-specific solutions became unnecessary?”

Basic income is an idea that is starting to gain traction in a wide range of circles, from high profile economists like Joseph Stiglitz to grassroots activists to Silicon Valley. I had a conversation with Jim Pugh who is leading basic income efforts in the Bay Area about the potential impact of this kind of overarching systemic intervention on artists and culture more broadly, and what artists might bring to the cause. Not only could basic income alleviate the ubiquitous financial stresses that most artists struggle with, it has the radical potential to advance cultural equity and diversity, stimulate creative risk taking and support artists engaging in social and community issues.