First artists union from England recognized in Landmark decision

Uncategorized |

De facto union was founded in 2014 by a group of artists that were exploited, after three years they are finally being recognized in a landmark decision, so they became England's first official group for professional visual and applied artists.

In average, income for visual artists is around  £7.500 a year and yet employers are asking them to work for free, offering "exposure" in exchange for their artworks.


Artist's Union England was founded to “redress the fact that all other cultural workers had independent representation from a Trade Union.". They hope that they can fight the ramifications of austerity measurse and cuts to arts organisations, galleries, local authorities and publicly funded bodies.

The official "certificate of independence" is finally received after the group raised £ 4,500 for verification, which recognized the democratic functioning of the Union.


The majority of the charge was secured by gifts, including a few contributions from built up unions, for example, Scottish Artists Union, Musicians Union, and the General Federation of Trade Unions.


The Government site expresses that the Certification Office allows the accreditation in acknowledgment that the union is not under the mastery or control of bosses, and is not subject to impact emerging out of money related or material procurement.

“A new landscape for artists now exists," the AUE said, “These core workers now have a trade union to represent them, which will work for better pay and conditions across England; where they can work together to challenge exploitative practice, be represented independently and democratically and raise the bar for artists."

We found the explanation of their aims "

Artists’ Union England was publicly launched in May 2014 by a cross section of artists from across the country, in response to an evident need for representation from a trade union. Unlike other cultural professionals, artists have had no collective voice in the form of a trade union, to represent them at work and to lobby and advocate on their behalf.

As a trade union, we aim to represent artists at strategic decision-making levels and positively influence the value and role artists play within society.

The Union is an opportunity to create a unique, sustainable and supportive infrastructure, which is built by its members for its members. We aim towards consensus decision-making and want to encourage an active grass roots membership and involvement with a wide geographical spread.

We want to challenge the economic inequalities in the art world by working together to negotiate fair pay and better working conditions for artists, as well as promote models for good practice.

We believe in fair remuneration for labour, which should translate to a wage comparable to other professionals. We are against unpaid labour. Fair and transparent payment for artists is not only ethically desirable, but vital for a sustainable and vibrant art world.

We seek to work with other unions, arts organisations, government bodies and cultural institutions whilst remaining both independent and transparent.

Artists’ Union England is funded solely by membership dues and donations, and we aim to be totally transparent in all our financial dealings. We are run by an executive committee and overseen by trustees, all of whom are artists and current members of the trade union.

The current executive committee and trustees first met together in September 2013, and are some of the founding members of Artists’ Union England. More information on the artists currently carrying out these roles can be found here. In forthcoming years all these positions will be elected at our Annual General Meeting.

We invite all artists to join and enter into dialogue with us to help shape the future of the union."


image source: