Friday, 19 September 2008

Time for pensions?

I was talking to someone recently about pensions for artists. Apparently one third of people, according to some sources, are unable to save for their retirement. (Please add your own favourite black humour joke about banks now.)

Then I came across an article about a retirement home for country musicians being set up by the Country Music Association. Which got me imagining one for the contemporary poets Sean O’Brien once described as fighting like rats – or was it ferrets? – in a sceptic tank, and how entertaining that would be. And then I saw that the only such home in Britain is about to close, as reported here, and felt guilty for casting my poet friends into a bardic version of Stella Street

So thought I would point you to a genuinely informative site called Pensions for Artists, which is fairly self-explanatory. Pensions are not – contrary to what some artists argue – hard just for creative people. Lots of people have difficulty committing to a pension. (Try working in catering, for instance.) But there are some things artists can do to help themselves and this site is a good place to start if you need to think about pensions. This was just one small initiative which came out of something called Artists Insights I helped kick start across the Arts Council some years ago and it’s good to see that continues to resonate.

(Just imagine, though, a retirement village with Andrew Motion living between Carol Ann Duffy and Benjamin Zephaniah, with a house on the end full of experimental poets. Bill Herbert would, of course, name the streets as he did in West Park in Darlington.)

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