2021 has rewritten the story of artists in Ireland. Not just for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the wreckage it has made in our lives and work, but for the decision that you and 200 other artists made to join a trade union to change things for good. Artists have been in a state of perpetual crisis long before the pandemic. We are used to being forgotten about, used to being paid last and least within any workplace we find ourselves in. Generations before us have excused our poor treatment with insincere appeals to the economy and society. This year, society and the economy felt the absence of our labour. This year, we felt its power.
Reflecting upon the first year of Praxis: The Artists’ Union of Ireland, it is surreal to reconcile what we have achieved in incredible circumstances. We have built a union from our homes, battling technology and isolation to construct a democratic, effective organisation, which we launched in March. We have won pay raises for members, secured overdue payments, and advised on members’ contracts. We have sat at the tables of the Arts Council of Ireland, Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, and the Gaeltacht, and various trade unions. Members have launched working groups on critical issues such as arts and disability, rates of pay for artists, and the Artists’ Basic Income Pilot Scheme.
Well done to all the members and Officers who have volunteered their time and skills this year. Your contributions will be felt in the lives of all our members. We also express our deepest solidarity with the essential workers who have made our work possible over the past year. Society should reward these workers with abundance for the risks they have taken, and continue to take, on all of our behalf’s.
As we enter the holiday season, our thoughts are especially with members who have lost loved ones in these traumatic times. We are mourning with you and hope you feel the embrace of our community in this tender season.
2021 has been a year of distress, uncertainty, isolation, and grief. But it has also been a year of solidarity, fortitude, purpose, and hope. It is the future that will define the present and we at Praxis are daring to envision a future where the artist’s place is recognised in society, where we can expect to find the same dignity and standards that are presumed by others in their places of work. With the adventures of this year behind us, we are using our holidays to rest and reflect so that we can build on our accomplishments in 2022. Join us, as we write our story.
Kerry Guinan, Chairperson
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