The Artists Wage would see 10,000 emerging artists and arts workers paid out of a $277.5 million funding package to create their masterpieces.
Eligible artists would include visual artists, musicians, comedians, dancers, writers and authors, photographers, composers, actors, directors and other people working in film.
The payment would also extend to workers involved in the associated industries, such as events managers or venue bookers.
Artists would need to be earning less than $80,000 a year to be eligible for the payment, and be able to prove they had been working professionally in the Australian arts or music industry for the previous three years by providing two professional referees.
Artists would also need to be over 18 and an Australian citizen, permanent resident or have a valid working visa.
Under the plan, two local councils - one regional and one metropolitan - would bid to jointly run the pilot program in their region with the Commonwealth.
Councils would identify local artists and creatives, who could then access the Artists Wage.
Artists struggled during the pandemic
Australian Greens spokesperson for the arts senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the funding initiative would revitalise the arts sector, which took a hit during COVID.
“The arts are a core part of Australian culture and contribute so much to our economy,” Hanson- Young said.
“The Morrison Government has treated the arts sector and creative workers with contempt, like a bunch of philistines who dismiss the public good of the arts but love belting out tunes from their favourite artists,” she said.
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Hanson-Young said there were successful living wage programs in France and Ireland.
“Australia should do the same.”
NSW Greens lead senate candidate David Shoebridge said the arts employed four times as many people as the coal-mining industry.
He said the sector employed 200,000 people and contributed $15 billion annually to Australia’s GDP.
Alexandra Hudson, winner of the 2022 RAW Comedy Grand Final, said she encountered a number of barriers as an emerging comedian from a regional area, including financial struggles.
“The Artists Wage will mean I am supported financially so I can focus solely on my comedy with the goal of building a career spanning my lifetime,” Hudson said.
David Bradbury, two-time Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker, also supported the move.
“In today’s fast, inflationary world, $772.60 will quickly run out for a single income family of mum
and dad and two kids at school,” Bradbury said.
“But it’s a bloody lot better than most of us earn in today’s fast-polarising Australia between the rich and the poor.”