November 24, 2022
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More than 2,000 New York artists will receive $1,000 a month under ambitious new guaranteed income program

By on November 17, 2022 0

A group of lucky artists in New York will get a guaranteed income under an ambitious pilot program.

The Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY) initiative announced that it is spending $43.2 million to distribute monthly payments of $1,000 to $2,400 to artists and other creatives living across the state. With a duration of 18 months, these cash payments are non-binding.

About 20% of recipients work specifically in the visual arts, and 62% of the entire cohort said they had no financial safety net before.

The model aims to provide an alternative to the scholarship and grant system that artists typically rely on, which tends to be competitive and unevenly distributed.

“We are delighted that this program is helping artists meet their basic needs, and we hope that Guaranteed Income for Artists will serve as a model for larger-scale policy-based solutions in the future,” said Emil. Kang, Chairman of the CRNY Board of Directors and Program Director of the Mellon Foundation for Arts and Culture.

CRNY is a three-year, $125 million initiative of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support artists with guaranteed income and employment opportunities.

Recipients were selected from more than 22,000 applicants through a weighted, randomized process that ensured funding was distributed equitably across the state and considered systemic barriers.

Emil Kang (right, pictured with Lisa Kang) oversaw the new guaranteed income program as chairman of the CRNY Board of Directors and program director for the Mellon Foundation for Arts and Culture. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for YoungArts.

This means that 62% of roster members identify as Black, Indigenous, or of color, 51% as LGBTQ+, 34% as trans, non-binary, or gender non-conforming, and 34% as caregivers.

According to CRNY, arts and culture contribute $120 billion to New York State’s economy and are a key force behind the state’s $177 billion tourism industry. But the pandemic too highlighted their great financial precariousness with the sudden loss of jobs and opportunities. New York State, for example, lost 50% of performing arts jobs in 2020.

“Some months are lucrative and some are not,” said dancer and choreographer Kristen Brooks Sandler, who received the funding. “Struggling at the end of the month to make rent because the check for a concert hasn’t arrived in the mail has become my reality. I didn’t realize how stressful it was until I received this funding. The relief is not just financial; it is emotional, physical, mental and artistic.

Historical models for this type of program include the Graduated Income Work experiment of the 1960s in New Jersey and the Majors for a Guaranteed Income network, which hopes to fight income equality in all sectors of the country.

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