• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

The Welsh Government will require organisations to commit to fair pay rates, but has not responded to calls for a universal basic income for creatives.

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, has the support of arts organisations to pilot a basic income scheme for artists - but needs the Welsh Government to commit too

Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

Welsh arts organisations seeking emergency funding amid the coronavirus shutdown will have to sign a "cultural contract".

The Arts Council of Wales (ACW) will open applications for a share of £25.5m of revenue funding and £2m capital funding from the Welsh Government on Monday (17 August). 

In return, organisations will be expected to commit to a "cultural contract" - a raft of measures around board and workforce diversity, environmental sustainability, health and wellbeing initiatives and fair pay and work opportunities for freelancers.


It is not yet clear whether the 'fair work' requirements in the contract, which are set by the Welsh Government, will include a universal basic income (UBI) for creatives.

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, last week called for such a scheme to support the nearly 60,000 people employed by the country's arts and creative sector.

But it is unlikely a UBI will become part of the cultural contract. The Welsh Government did not respond to requests for comment.

Culture change

Howe says a UBI for creatives could rescue the struggling arts and cultural sector and act as a trial for a wider-reaching scheme in the future.

"A UBI trial specifically for people, including freelancers, who contribute art in a range of different ways, should go some way to stop the extractive culture of ‘picking someone’s brain’ and see creatives paid fairly for their work," Howe said.

"The sector was already struggling before the pandemic and its survival depends on a ground-breaking response.

"A basic income would go further than an emergency hand-out – this could save jobs, protect our long-term cultural future and help Wales’ recovery."

A spokesperson for Howe's office said the proposal has received "a great deal of interest" and that the commissioner has worked with several Welsh arts organisations to develop a potential scheme.

Wales Milennium Centre (WMC) Artistic Director Graeme Farrow said a UBI pilot presented "a real opportunity ... to invest in both our artists and our future".

WMC, Wales' flagship arts venue, has closed until January 2021, citing an inability to operate under social distancing guidelines. The centre normally welcomes up to 1.6 million visitors per year.

"A form of basic income which allows creative  practitioners to work in communities, in public services and infrastructure over time is a progressive way of grasping this opportunity," Farrow said.

Interest from ACW 

The Arts Council of Wales has also lent its more cautious support to Howe's proposal.

Chief Executive Nick Calpaldi said it is "intriguing" and "deserves careful consideration".

He said a UBI scheme is a way of 'levelling up' and "could possibly change the notion that only the well-off and privileged can afford to be arts professionals".

"The Covid pandemic is asking some tough questions, including how we can best support the many freelance individuals who sustain the arts and creative industries through their work.

"Yet when lockdown happened, these are the very people whose work stopped immediately with no prospect of anything on the near horizon.

"This is a massive unused resource of experience, and we would support calls to examine the piloting of an Universal Basic Income."