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Springboard for the Arts is excited to announce the launch of a guaranteed minimum income pilot program for artists and culture workers in St. Paul. Inspired by the City of St. Paul’s People’s Prosperity Pilot and the Mayors for Guaranteed Income network, this pilot will be one of the first guaranteed income pilots in the nation to focus on the creative workforce.

The pilot program will provide $500 of unrestricted monthly support to 25 artists in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of St. Paul for 18 months, beginning in April 2021. Designed as a “sidecar” to the City of St. Paul’s People's Prosperity Pilot, the goal of Springboard’s pilot is to explore the impact of guaranteed income on artists, culture bearers and creative workers at a neighborhood level and to provide a national model for the inclusion of artists in policies that address economic inequity.

“Our goal with this pilot is, of course, to provide direct, unrestricted support to artists who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Equally important is that this pilot gives us the opportunity to demonstrate and advocate nationally that culture makers need to be included in the work to make our economy more equitable and just.” says Springboard executive director, Laura Zabel.

“Springboard for the Arts is a vital partner in our work to ensure no one is left behind in this pandemic,” says Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “With this new program supporting artists and creative workers, they join the growing guaranteed income movement to the benefit of our entire community.” Springboard is working with the City of St. Paul Office of Financial Empowerment to align the program structure and research.

A guaranteed income is a monthly, cash benefit distributed directly to participating individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity while contributing to community stability. Springboard’s Guaranteed Income for Artists Pilot will select recipients at random from an eligible pool of artists in St. Paul who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and have received support from Springboard’s Coronavirus Personal Emergency Relief Fund. At least 75% of recipients will be Black, Native and/or People of Color. The pilot is funded with the support of the McKnight Foundation and the Bush Foundation.

According to Caroline Taiwo, Springboard’s Economic Opportunity Director, “We chose to launch our pilot in Rondo and Frogtown because we recognize the disproportionate economic effects of COVID over the past year, and the legacy of displacement and divestment from those communities over decades. We see this guaranteed income pilot as an opportunity to focus relief efforts on neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic(s), and center artists from these places as creative problem solvers and key economic drivers.”

Over the past year, Springboard has distributed over $1.5 million in direct aid to creative workers in the region. Laura Zabel explains, “We know that creativity and culture will be necessary ingredients for a just and equitable recovery. Artists have valuable skills to help us build social connection, improve mental health, rethink public spaces, and tackle our most pressing challenges like environmental justice, racial equity and education. If we are going to tap into artists skills to help us imagine a new future, we need to find new ways to support the sustainability of our creative community.”

Springboard Staff

Economic Opportunity Director

The Guaranteed Income for Artists Pilot is supported by the McKnight Foundation and the Bush Foundation.

Logo of The Bush Foundation

Read about the pilot in the New York Times

"Laura Zabel, Springboard’s director overseeing the project, said that the monthly payments would help artists afford food and rent."

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Read about the pilot in the Star Tribune

"Part of being an artist is so much volatility and so much uncertainty month to month. A particularly interesting question that we want to investigate is: What does even baseline stability allow?"

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Read about the pilot in MinnPost

"Springboard’s pilot program will provide direct, no-strings-attached cash support to artists affected by the pandemic. It will explore the impact of guaranteed income on artists, culture bearers and creative workers at a neighborhood level."

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Read about the pilot in the Pioneer Press

“Our goal with this pilot is, of course, to provide direct, unrestricted support to artists who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic."

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is Guaranteed Minimum Income?
From Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, “A guaranteed income is a monthly, cash payment given directly to individuals. It is unconditional, with no strings attached and no work requirements. A guaranteed income is meant to supplement, rather than replace, the existing social safety net and can be a tool for racial and gender equity.”

 

Why is Springboard doing this?
This past year has shown how fragile our existing social supports are, and how our ecosystem for artists and creative workers needs more investment to be equitable and sustainable. Americans for the Arts’ report COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, shows that 62% of artists have become fully unemployed because of COVID-19 and 95% have experienced income loss from COVID-19. In addition to the specific challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic has illuminated that there is little to no safety net for most individual artists, creating a pressing emergency of equity in economic opportunity especially for artists who are Black, Indigenous and/or People of Color. While many recovery efforts focus on nonprofit arts organizations or business relief; artists and creative workers are falling through the gaps.

The disruption across the whole economy, which has specifically and catastrophically affected the creative, entertainment, service, and retail industries, requires a response larger than any one donor, organization, or foundation. In the coming year, Springboard for the Arts seeks to address these vulnerabilities through a combination of direct services to meet artists’ needs and broad programming to address systemic issues. Inspired by the existing People’s Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot in St. Paul, we are excited to pilot direct, unrestricted, noncompetitive financial support, in the form of Guaranteed Minimum Income, for culture workers.

 

Are you using public money to fund this pilot?
No, the Guaranteed Income for Artists Pilot is being funded by two private foundations, the McKnight Foundation and the Bush Foundation.

 

I’m an artist in St. Paul, can I apply?
We are not taking open applications for the Guaranteed Income for Artists Pilot. Recipients will be selected at random from an eligible pool of artists who have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 and have received support from Springboard’s Coronavirus Personal Emergency Relief Fund. We are focusing this pilot on 25 artists in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of St. Paul.

Springboard is also partnering with the City of St. Paul to work with local artists to design projects that address stereotypes and misconceptions around economic insecurity and to share the impact of the Peoples Prosperity Pilot. We will have more information about how artists can be a part of this work in Spring of 2021.

Will you be sharing a list of artists in the pilot?
We will not be sharing a public list of participating artists. Guaranteed Income is not a grant or an award for public recognition, Guaranteed Income is analogous to public benefits such as Unemployment Insurance or SNAP. Participation in this pilot is not an endorsement of the artists by Springboard or by our partners and stakeholders.

Additional resources on Guaranteed Income:
Mayors for Guaranteed Income: https://www.mayorsforagi.org/
Stockton Demonstration Project findings: https://www.stocktondemonstration.org/
Peoples Prosperity Guaranteed Income Pilot in St. Paul: https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/financial-empowerment/peoples-prosperity-guaranteed-income-pilot

 

Other guaranteed income pilots for artists:
Long Beach, CA: https://www.gazettes.com/news/coronavirus/long-beach-moves-ahead-with-guaranteed-income-for-some-artists/article_e31a63c2-29e8-11eb-85a7-af555525904d.html
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA/Bay Area: https://ybca.org/guaranteed-income-pilot/