Tuesday, 7 March 2017

What do we want? When do we want it?

I went to a lecture by Chris Packham, naturalist, television presenter and visiting lecturer at the University of Lincoln.
He said that when you graduate, you are at the pinnacle of your field, the trick is, to keep going with that afterwards.
He went at his chosen career at a slightly unusual angle.

And afterwards, I thought about this. 
If I was paid according to my Artists' Day Rate since I graduated from University - my University degree being enough to confer my status as an an artist worthy of an income, never mind the work I was at that time trying to continue with, then the total amount I should've been paid is approximately £124,800 over the past 8 years.

Not whatever it is that the DWP say "the law states you need to live on" plus the odd occasional extra payment and arts council grant rejections / cuts.
I hope that when the Tories go, I get all the money I'm owed back so I can buy a proper house.

And if I'm forced to rely on benefits - which I'd rather not - then "what the law states you need to live on" is an illegally low amount, and if the DWP try to take it away without notice, I'm calling the police.

Universal Basic Income.
The arts world seems to be a big supporter of this concept, and I agree with it. But I would still rather be paid at my Artists' Day Rate for my work, not the rate of benefits, or UBI.

UBI would be better than the current welfare system of failing to recognise graduate fine artists as working, and forcing us to take on other jobs that less qualified people or robots could be doing instead, or working minimum wage jobs to keep the DWP from our door, but it isn't as good as just paying artists to do what we do, at the rate we have worked out we should be earning for ourselves.

My zero hours contract job.

This week, I will have to take time out from Peace Painting or any art practice to go and do work in a zero hours contract job.
When I took it on, I was totally disillusioned by the art world and its failures.
I was looking for a part time job, for two days per week, that would pay me well enough not to have to rely on benefits.

This work was suggested as something I could do.
In reality, I'm lucky if I get 2 days work per month.
It isn't enough to stop me relying on benefits, and I'm still looking for that kind of work.
Ideally, if I were to do 2 days Peace Painting workshops per week, doing the work that I spent 3 years at University training to do, and all the experience I've gained since, paid at my Artists' Day Rate, then I would be able to do that and still have time for my own practice.

Carer's Allowance

I have absolutely no intention to give up my work as an artist and claim Carer's Allowance. 
It is too low an income to live on, and it wasn't my career choice.
I do not expect some Nurse Ratched type person to declare that I don't care for my son, or be persecuted or punished any more by the lack of social care, lack of respite, and general neglect of either myself or my son's needs.

Carer's Allowance should be covered by UBI or paid according to the wage of the profession a Carer has been forced to give up due to a family member becoming ill.
Or it should be paid in addition to an existing wage to cover the cost of taking time out for caring responsibilities. 
Either way, it should not be a replacement for other income that has been stolen or taken away because of the criteria for Carer's Allowance.
Carers should not be financially abused or neglected in that way.

I am posting these thoughts because the current government have not asked me whatI think, or what I want, they just keep imposing austerity upon me and others against our wishes, and I wanted to make it very clear what we want. And we want it backdating to the time that all of this was stolen from us. Our rights, our livelihoods - we want it all back now.

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