Artist promotes dole at taxpayers' expense

An out-of-work Wellington artist is setting up a taxpayer-funded "beneficiaries' office" promoting the virtues of being unemployed.

However, Tao Wells, 37, lost his unemployment benefit when Work and Income learned he was being paid $2000 for the project, the Dominion Post reported.

Wells' installation, The Beneficiary's Office, which starts on Monday using a vacant commercial premises, urges people to abandon jobs they don't like rather than suffering eight hours of "slavery".

"We need to work less, so we consume less. The average carbon footprint of the unemployed person is about half of that of those earning over $100,000."

He is part of a $53,000 Letting Space performance art installation series paid for by Creative New Zealand and Wellington City Council. Creative NZ provided a $40,000 grant but said it was unaware of the installation's "precise content".

Chief executive Stephen Wainwright said innovative new work, such as the Letting Space series, could act as a powerful form of social commentary and encourage debate.

Wells denied his pro-unemployment stance was hypocritical when he was being paid for the project.

"We should never be forced to take a job. If you're forced to take a job it's a punishment. If a job's a punishment then society must be a prison."




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