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Lilja Alfreðsdóttir is one of the people nominated for Person of the Year.

Icelandic Government Raises Artist Salaries

Iceland’s government raised its artist grants known as “artist salaries” to ISK 428,000 [$3,330, €2,908] per month this January, Fréttablaðið reports. The salaries were ISK 409,580 [$3,187, €2,782] per month last year. Minister of Tourism, Trade, and Culture Lilja Alfreðsdóttir has decided to increase funding of artists salaries by a further ISK 100 million [$779,000, €679,000] this year and says the government is also considering restructuring the artist salary grant system.

Fewer months than in 2020 and 2021

“This is not a high figure in my opinion and we aim for it to rise in stages throughout this term because I consider it important for our artists and this system has worked very well,” Lilja stated. “I would say that the entire government agrees with increasing support to this system.” In fact, the 2022 artist salary recipients, who were recently announced, will receive ISK 490,920 per month [$3,825, €3,335]. The government has, however, decreased the number of months granted to artists as compared to 2020 and 2021. An additional 600 months in artist salaries were granted in 2020 and an additional 550 in 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The artist salaries for 2022 have however decreased back to 1,600 months in total, the same number granted between 2009 and 2019. 

Special grant for young artists is a possibility

Lilja says the government is considering restructuring the artist salary system, including by having a special category for young artists. Culture and Trade were brought together under a single ministry this term under Lilja’s leadership, and she says that presents certain benefits. “Everything that is connected to culture and art is now in one place. The reimbursement system for literature, the reimbursements for film, recording, so now we have for example the Icelandic Film Centre and the big reimbursement system in one place which creates new opporunities.” Last term, the government abolished sales tax on Icelandic books and increased contributions to writers grants. This term, Lilja says the focus will be on the music and film industries.

Lilja says that the government chose to work toward raising artist salaries rather than increasing them in number to “send a message to the entire industry.” She says there is still a ways to go, as salaries in comparable professions average around ISK 550,000 [$4,285, €3,736] per month.

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