A trade union for visual and applied artists launches on 1st May as part of International Labour Day. Artists’ Union England will be the first trade union in England for visual and applied artists, since the dissolution of The Artists’ Union in 1984.To celebrate, founding members of Artists’ Union England will be attending the May Day rallies in Newcastle and London.

Artists’ Union England Chair, Newcastle-based artist Angela Kennedy explains, “Artists’ Union England is led by artists for artists. We want to challenge the economic inequalities in the art world by working together to negotiate fair pay and better working conditions for artists. We believe in fair remuneration for labour and are against unpaid labour. Fair and transparent payment for artists is not only ethically desirable, but vital for a sustainable and vibrant art world.”


Artists’ Union England is hosting two launch events, one in London and one in Newcastle. In London on 14th May, will be hosting a formal launch event at the Showroom from 7-9pm, with a presentation from the Chair followed by a panel discussion. In Newcastle, on 16th and 17th May Artists’ Union England founding members will be hosting a series of informal events as part of Newcastle Lates. Please note tickets for the London event are free but must be booked online – please see link below.


Membership is open to professional visual and applied artists. From 1st May there will be a three-month grace period until 1st August 2014 in which there will be no membership fees. All members who join before 1st July will be invited to take part in a collective decision-making process to determine the initial priorities and annual membership fee. The resulting membership fee will be implemented from 1st August 2014.

AUE Trustee, Artist Margareta Kern describes why she believes a trade union for artists is so important. “In my own experience as a cultural worker/artist, I have found that it is often left to the artist to individually negotiate terms of a commission, a public talk, an education workshop, or an exhibition. This makes things appear personal, whereas in fact they are structural. Quite often, art organisations, which are increasingly under pressure to seek funding from private and corporate sources due to government funding cuts, are expecting an artist to work for speculative cultural capital, using the mythology of art (work) as pleasure, to not pay (or poorly pay). It is therefore really important to have a collective body that could represent artists for better and fair working conditions and rates of pay, and that could effect change more broadly across the cultural sector.”

Chris Biddlecombe from the Scottish Artists’ Union says “After 14 years of being the only visual and applied artists’ trade union in Britain, the Scottish Artists’ Union are enthused and encouraged to see this artist group initiate the beginnings of a new trade union that will support and strengthen the position of fellow professional working artists across England. We look forward to discussing with them ways in which we can work together on mutually agreed issues and campaigns.”

The website www.artistsunionengland.org.uk has been designed by John Hill from LuckyPDF, and is live from 1st May 2014.

More information:

  • Newcastle and London Launch events


  • Becoming a member



  • Founding members




    • Hi Jacqueline, thanks for the message and support. As far as I am aware this problem is being rectified. It is still possible to complete the form. First day live, I expect these snagging problems will occur
      thanks for your patience
      Kind Regards

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