Members Newsletter June 2020

Members Newsletter June 2020

 

This newsletter addresses some of the important events of the last month and invites members to take a survey about Universal Basic Income.   

 
 

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in our recent surveys, on the Artists Safety Net and around Studio Provision, we really appreciate that you have taken the time to fill these out, as they give us invaluable information to lobby on your behalf. Since our last newsletter, SAU’s staff and volunteer Executive have been representing our members, lobbying, campaigning, and keeping up with unfolding events. 

It also contains a link to a short SAU members survey asking you how a Universal Basic Income would benefit your art practice, work-life balance and wellbeing.   

Since the death of George Floyd on May 25th 2020, the world has been shaken and challenged into action to stand up against racism and police brutality. On the 6th of June the SAU published a statement on our website in solidarity with the family of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement see link here 

In North America and across the world, Black artists have been at the forefront of BLM campaigning and protests, against racism and police brutality. One of the largest BLM art installations is the Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington DC, commissioned by Mayor Muriel BowserThe Black Lives Matter Plaza mural was painted by a group of 8 artists (plus volunteers) coordinated by lead artist Keyonna Jones, and the street signs were designed by Wayne Bennett Pettus, aka BenxettMayor Muriel Bowser has been criticised by BLM activists who demand structural & systemic change to end police brutality, not only art interventions. However, this artwork has empowerethe artists involved and the people of Washington DC to take back part of their city from the brazen territorialisation and vicious violence of Trump. It is an artwork that literally put human rights on the 'Google' map (BLM on Google Map). 

We recognise that this period is an immensely challenging time for our members, especially those who are from BAME/PoC communities, in addition to the already stressful Covid-19 pandemic. As the SAU work on strategies to expand support to our members from BAME/PoC and marginalised communities, we welcome members in solidarity, to get involved in mutual projects and workshops to contribute to our diversity efforts.  Since the launch of the Visual Arts Manifesto, the SAU are looking at systems and structures of societal oppression that cause inequalities. We continue to proceed in a consultative approach towards a considerate campaign with an intersectional mindset, in order to augment inclusivity strategies and unlearning stigmas, with the aim to harness best practice and provide support for our cross section of members. 

In June, we had planned to march in the LGBT Pride events of Pride Month with our new banner. However, the current complex circumstances have changed the focus of Pride Month 2020. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the contemporary LGBTQ human rights movement began with a riot in the Stonewall Bar in New York City, June 1969, led by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two Trans Women of Colour. 

The Scottish Artists Union is a participatory democracy. SAU’s Learning programme and our organisational structures aim to include and deliver an informed participative engagement, listening to input from our members on ways to encourage fair representation in creative workplaces. In order for our trade union to be a healthy democracy, and continue to successfully support our members, it is vital you feel free to contribute to feedback, take part in the Learning events, our surveys and to attend and put forward motions at Annual General Meetings. We look forward to you volunteering on the Exec committee & sub-committees and encourage you to represent the SAU as delegates at the STUC conferences and other events.  

Please consider proposing a motion at the AGM which will take place online this year during August.(TBC). Here is a link to a guide on how to make a motion (How To Write A Good Motion). 

UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME

We are looking for you to input into this Survey for our members about how a Universal Basic Income would benefit your art practice, work-life balance and wellbeing.

Please contribute to the SIX question survey in this link. 

If you are unsure whether or not you support the campaign for UBI for Scotland, please read the rest of the newsletter and watch/read the articles & videos in the links listed below, before filling in your survey questions. For More Information about UBI please go to our Blogpost Here

In the past few months, the introduction of Universal Basic Income (UBI) has become central to the discussions in the development of economic policies worldwide, particularly in response to the current pandemic recovery and long-term resilience strategies. Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a guaranteed, unconditional, no-strings-attached, recurring payment to every member of society, sized to meet basic needs. 

"I’m now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income."

Martin Luther King Jr. Civil rights leader

Jamie Cooke from RSA Scotland (and Basic Income Earth Network) is one of the leading voices in the international campaign for UBI. He gave a presentation about UBI at the SAU AGM in 2016. More recently, SAU Learning Programme hosted a Zoom discussion with Cleo Goodman, the Director of Citizens Basic Income Network Scotland (CBINS) and Co-founder Basic Income Conversation, UK wide link to transcript 

Given the size of our population, Scotland can claim an unusually high number of progressive think tanks and research organisations in the university sector, the non-profit sector, activist sector and the business sector campaigning for the introduction of UBI. There is also a remarkable majority support in the Scottish Parliament for UBIand the majority of Scottish MPs have pledged their support.  

What have artists been doing? Artists have already been embedded into the campaign for UBI. Artist Jessie Golem was a participant in the Ontario Universal Basic Income pilot. While the pilot was in process, she made a collaborative artwork, titled Humans of Basic Income, with some of the other UBI pilot participants. Unfortunately, the Ontario pilot was cut off at the halfway point, 18 months into the trial, due to a change of government. The abrupt end to the pilot was deeply distressing for the participants, and some of the contributions to the collaborative artwork reflect this.   

Artists and the broader arts sectors.  It is clear that the visual & applied art sectors, and all live art forms including theatre, music and writing have been particularly badly affected economically by the pandemic. SAU Exec members have attended meetings and discussions with Scottish Government Ministers, other cultural trade unions (Musicians Union, Equity, BECTU, NUJ and Writer’s Guild) and leading figures in the campaign for the introduction of UBI, and are right at the centre of the discussion in Scotland. 

In Dumfries, The Stove Network has produced a proposal that includes UBI for a post- Covid-19 recovery plan, it's titled Creativity and Community as part of the National Recovery. Meanwhile in the theatre sector, Thomas Hescott, a longtime advocate of UBI and the executive director of Stage Directors UK, has written an important and informative article about UBI and the arts in The Stage. Hescott sums up by saying " Universal basic income not only protects the most vulnerable from financial crisis, it also gives us all the time and space to rebuild. We will all need to be as creative as we can to reimagine a world post-Covid-19 – UBI allows us that opportunity."

UBI in Scotland The dominant drive for UBI in Scotland is led by progressive anti-poverty campaigners advocating for a form of UBI that assures a genuine safety net that makes sure vulnerable people continued to get the support services they need. However, there is also a libertarian right-wing version of UBI that could make vulnerable people (particularly people with disabilities worse off. Due to the global economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the expansion of the automation of labour, the momentum for UBI is pushing forward, it is not an if, but a whenIt is vital that progressive voices lead the direction of the discussions on UBI, to set the bar high, to design a version that creates a platform for creative innovation, improves quality of life for all and makes sure that nobody is left behind. 

It is not an understatement that the world is watching Scotland right now in terms of how we progress with the introduction and implementation of UBI, not only as a temporary pilot, or an emergency response to the pandemicScotland is in a position to demonstrate how UBI could work, and integrate it into a long-term strategy to raise the quality of life for everyone in Scotland. There is a growing support for UBI among international thinkers, high profile politicians and many religious leaders, and if there is enough public support, Scotland would lead in demonstrating how UBI could be introduced in other countries.   

We are looking for you to input into this Survey for our members about how a Universal Basic Income would benefit your art practice, work-life balance and wellbeing.

Please contribute to the SIX question survey in this link. 

If you are unsure whether or not you support the campaign for UBI for Scotland, please read the rest of the newsletter and watch/read the articles & videos in the links listed below, before filling in your survey questions. For More Information about UBI please go to our Blogpost Here

Here is a link to sign the UBI Pledge petition for pilot programmes in Scotland. LINK TO PLEDGE 

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