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City Of Sacramento Considering Plan To Provide Local Artists With Guaranteed Income

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) - Local artists may soon see some relief after being hit hard by pandemic cancellations and closures.

The City of Sacramento is considering giving them a monthly paycheck.

"It's been a strain," said artist Taylor Pannell.

She's one is among the local professional artists who have struggled financially over the last two years as indoor art gallery exhibits were canceled and indoor performance venues were closed.

"There are many, many days where I don't know if I'm going to eat," she said.

The pandemic left her dream of being a full-time working artist in jeopardy.

"I was like, 'am I really going to have to go back to a nine to five?' And that was hard," she said.

Now she's one of the hundreds of Sacramento-area artists who could be eligible for a pilot program under consideration by the City of Sacramento to help the creative economy rebound.

So how would guaranteed basic income work?

"It's essentially an unconditional cash payment," said Sacramento Cultural and Creative Economy Manager Megan Van Voorhis.

City leaders are considering setting aside a portion of the $10 million in Federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding, which was approved as part of the mayor's ARP spending framework, to fund the program. If approved, it would provide a monthly income to help compensate artists for financial losses due to the COVID crisis.

"There are definitely a lot of people asking questions about whether or not they can stay in the industry at this point," said Van Voorhis.

"Personally, I think that is an excellent idea. It would help me greatly and I have a lot of my friends greatly as well," said Pannell.

It's a potential big boost to keep artists employed and Sacramento's creative economy thriving.

"Those folks are really critical to our community," said Van Voorhis.

The city is currently surveying local artists on how the money should be distributed. If approved, the payments could be in place by this fall, organizers hope.

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