CORK, Ireland — Artist Elinor O’Donovan draws, sculpts and creates installations, and she said she feels lucky that her passion is also her profession.

“I can’t imagine not doing it,” O’Donovan, 27, told NBC News earlier this month. in his studio here in the southern city of Cork. «But it’s also a job for me.»

Until September, O’Donovan said she had to work part-time as a receptionist to finance her art projects.

But then he was among 2,000 artists and cultural workers selected to take part in a basic income pilot program launched by the Irish government to receive 325 euros ($326) ​​a week for three years with no restrictions on how the money is spent.

Grant recipients, including visual artists, musicians, filmmakers, writers, actors and dancers, were randomly chosen from a pool of more than 8,000 eligible applicants, the government said in a statement. Press release; 13 circus performers and 10 architects were also selected for the entrance scholarships.

Participants must complete a survey every six months, in which they are asked about their artistic production and hours of work, as well as their sleep habits and the state of their mental health. The survey also asks about your social involvement, which may include activities such as volunteering and caring for family members. A control group of artists who did not receive funding will also be surveyed and tracked to compare the results of those who received funding with those who did not.

The idea, which enjoys cross-party support, originated from a 2020 report organized by Ireland’s Minister for Culture, Catherine Martin, which investigated the impact the covid-19 pandemic had on the arts.

“The pandemic reinforced the fact that each and every person trusts and leans on the arts in times of need, and everyone has been reminded of the true value of artists and their work over the past two years as we listened music, we read poetry. and we watched movies to get us through those hard days,” Martin, a classical singer, said in a statement when the plan was launched.

It is one of several ongoing projects around the world to test the effectiveness of a universal basic income in which governments pay citizens a lump sum each month. Similar projects have been started in California, Germany and Finland.

Advocates say it can provide a level of financial security for everyone, and some see it as a possible solution to insecurity in the job market. Its detractors have argued that it gives people an incentive not to work.

Ireland relies on its artists to attract tourists and foreign investment, which fuels economic growth, according to Declan Jordan, a senior professor of economics at Cork University’s Business School.

Jordan, an advocate of the program but not related to it, said the grants could allow artists to spend the time they need to create their art or change their medium, «or they could try harder and be more successful.»

If artists can focus solely on their work, «that also benefits society in the long run,» he said.

He warned, however, that there will be «people who take advantage» of the program, which will cost nearly $34 million a year on top of the $142 million that Ireland’s main arts funder, the Arts Council, spends every year, despite statistics showing rising poverty rates.

But Jordan said he thinks that’s «part of the cost of building into a system.»

The government said it would assess the income program regularly «to determine the impact of the grant payment», which is well below Ireland’s average weekly income of around $1,000.

“What people care about, really, is how happy they are,” Jordan said. «That’s where we should be measuring the effectiveness of the scheme.»

Artist Elinor O'Donovan works in her studio in Cork, Ireland.
Artist Elinor O’Donovan works in her studio in Cork, Ireland.Elizabeth Kurh/NBC News

O’Donovan said her professional and personal life had improved as a result of the income grant.

In April, he said he participated in an artist residency in Iceland, where he created his first film. She also plays soccer, takes pottery classes, and learns Spanish.

«It’s been hugely transformative,» O’Donovan said, saying the show had allowed him «to spend my time on my art practice and being in the studio.»