Conservative MP Ásbjörn Óttarsson has apologized for remarks he made in parliament that artists should “get real jobs like regular people”.
As reported, the criticism arose when Ásbjörn was speaking against the proposed government budget for this fiscal year. Noticing that government funding for artists was on the list, he asked parliament why it was necessary to fund artists, making his now infamous remark that they should get “real” employment.
The backlash to these remarks was strong, not least of all fuelled by the fact that Ásbjörn is already a controversial figure. Last January, media outlets reported that Ásbjörn had paid himself millions from a company that he owns, despite reporting losses, which is a violation of Icelandic business law. Ásbjörn admitted breaking the law on the news television show Kastljósið, but said that he did so unwillingly.
Ásbjörn met with The Federation of Icelandic Artists yesterday, and apologized for his remarks, saying that he wasn’t trying to belittle the work that they do. He told reporters that he found the meeting he had with the artists to be very informative.
Baldvin Esra Einarsson, a record producer, has proposed a general artists’ strike in Iceland, to draw attention to the impact and importance they have in society. The proposed strike could take place this Saturday.