AUE celebrates 10 years (2014-2024) with a Research Residency at Chelsea Space

Updated: May 24, 2024



Artists’ Union England (AUE) is a trade union for visual, applied artists and artists with a socially engaged practice. The month of May 2024 marks 10 years since the union first launched with 10 founding members and no resources except resolve. 

Originally conceived by three artists Angela Kennedy, Katriona Beales, and Sally Sheinman, AUE started life in May 2014 when the first 10 members signed the founding document and formed the first AUE National Executive Committee (NEC). 

10 years later, AUE now numbers over 1400 (1) members and is affiliated to the TUC (Trades Union Congress) and GFTU (General Federation of Trade Unions). 

All this growth has come about through the hard work of volunteer artists committing their limited resources towards a common goal of seeing structural inequalities, poor working conditions and injustices in the art world(s) change. We represent artists’ in contract issues, carry out casework on behalf of members and provide a number of membership benefits including legal advice. A key part of our work and campaigning focuses on issues of exploitation and low / no pay. Industria’s recent report ‘Structurally F~cked’ highlights the extremely low wages for artists, as low as £1.56 an hour or totally unpaid (2)

AUE is an active campaigning union, not only on issues directly impacting artists but also addressing social justice issues impacting communities globally. Examples of recent campaigning work led by AUE includes:

  • successfully calling on Arts Council England to remove the reputational risk clause from their NPO guidance (3). AUE continues to refuse attempts to restrict artistic freedoms and to stand up for artists experiencing censorship.
  • actively calling for a Ceasefire in Palestine and supporting the BDS movement (4).

We are committed to decolonising the arts and to equality for all including Disabled, Women, LGBTQI+, Black and People of Colour, and age inclusivity. AUE has an antifascist and anti-racist approach. We are committed to the ongoing challenge of tackling systemic low pay for artists, as it is a key driver of inequality. Changing the low-pay culture will address under-representation in the arts. 

AUE exists to remake the art world(s) and to stand up collectively for the rights of artists in their working lives. 

A RESEARCH RESIDENCY AT CHELSEA SPACE: AUE LAB 

In May and June, UAL's Public Engagement team will be hosting AUE Lab at Chelsea Space, led by AUE NEC members Katriona Beales and Loraine Monk. As a research residency, the AUE Lab provides members of the AUE National Executive Committee led by artists Katriona Beales and Loraine Monk with a context to build on existing research, and provides the opportunity for some deep thinking to help shape the next 10 years of AUE and beyond. 

AUE Lab will also host Zita Holbourne (Artist and Human Rights campaigner) and Industria during course of the residency. We are approaching the AUE Lab as a research period to help in the creation of a series of position statements, policy and tools for members which will ultimately be public facing. 

Ruth Lie, Public Engagement Manager, UAL states: “We are very excited to welcome Artists' Union England to Chelsea Space for two months this Spring. Artists' Union England plays an essential and much needed role in challenging the current status quo around artist worker's rights. In doing so, they help to frame and question our own understanding and responsibilities in our duty of care towards artists, and we look forward to working with them as the residency develops.” 

Katriona Beales, Founding member of AUE: “We started AUE so we could have a collective voice to change artists’ working conditions, and AUE Lab provides a timely context to further this goal. We want to thank all of our members and our growing staff team for all they have done to get us to this stage. We are very pleased to be given this opportunity at Chelsea Space and want to thank Ruth and her team for their support.” 

The residency coincides with AUE’s 2024 Members Survey (5) which is live until the 12th of June 2024, and AUE’s AGM (6) on the 29th of June in which members decide the priorities for the union for the coming year. 

  1. 1413 members as of 8th May 2024 
  2. See ‘Structurally F_cked’ by Industria https://www.we-industria.org/ 
  3. See Arts Professional Article ‘Complete Turnaround published 29th February 2024 
  4. See AUE statement Against artistic censorship and in support of BDS published 10th April 2024 
  5. More information on the 2024 AUE Membership Survey here
  6. More info on AUE AGM here



 
 
 

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