There is little argument across the world that the arts industry is a significant and relevant contributor to society. Governments have initiated reports researching the sector, national arts councils have been established, funding – usually via subsidies and grants – is meted out to those considered worthy.
What then of the notion of a social security benefit specifically to support the arts industry? The idea has been thrown around by a few political parties in this country: the Labor Party has talked of the idea, and the Democrats advocate just such a scheme, called ‘the living wage’ in their ‘Cultural Plan’, released in October 2001.
There are a few countries – the Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland and the UK – that have some sort of social welfare scheme already in place.