There is a well-grounded fear that there appears no intelligent government interest in the creative sector, when British artists are fizzing with ideas

The most eye-catching of the measures proposed by Ireland’s cultural recovery taskforce, set up last November, was a three-year pilot of a universal basic income (UBI) for artists. The Green party culture minister, Catherine Martin, is giving enthusiastic backing to the idea, and seeking cross-party support for the scheme. The notion is that self-employed artists and creative workers should be given a weekly income of €325 (£285), without losing any existing support, and be able to earn on top of that.

Such a measure, on mature consideration, may not be exactly right for the nations of the UK. But in a way that is a side issue. The point is that the Irish government is taking the arts seriously – and not merely as a set of institutions, the “crown jewels”, to use the UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden’s phrase, but as a set of highly skilled, professional people, who deserve to be nurtured and supported because of value they bring to the reputation and wellbeing of the country as a whole.

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