Executive Committee

Current members of the Executive Committee (serving 2018-20)

Members of the Executive Committee serve two years as volunteers, facilitating the continuation of the union.

There is more information about the current committee below:

Sheree Matthews, North East
Acting General Secretary

I am joining the Executive Committee after representing the Union at the 2018 TUC Black Workers Conference in London. From this experience, I came to realise a number of things. One, that we need to spread the word more about AUE existence. Two, that we need to strengthen our voice by supporting other workers within the creative industries. And finally, three, that as artists we are in vulnerable and exploitative positions and can be easily taken advantage of or discriminated against. This is further exacerbated by gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity and religion. I stand to give voice for those artists who have experienced discrimination and prejudice.


Loraine Monk, Surrey

Loraine Monk is a Figurative Artist, Lecturer, Trade Unionist, Women’s Rights campaigner and Labour activist.   She has completed two artist’s residencies, one at St Elisabeth Hospice, Ipswich in 2011 and the second at Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough in 2015.  Her previous work experience  includes Youth work, Welfare Rights Advice, Parliamentary research and Lecturing in FE and Art Colleges.  She has a studio in Hawks Rd Studios in SW London.   Art practice has a unique ability to critique, describe and at times prescribe, our societies/communities; it has the ability to challenge discrimination and injustice, to educate, to communicate and to promote and improve health & wellbeing

‘We need a union for art practitioners, in order to represent artists, to expose and fight the  exploitation and underpayment of artists and protect their rights as workers. We need the AUE to  lobby Arts Funding institutions and highlight areas of improvement, and above all to ensure that all diverse groups within our communities are represented and celebrated, as artists and as viewers and participants.’


Zita Holbourne, London
Joint National Chair

Zita Holbourne is an award winning visual artist, designer, art curator, author, poet and writer as well as  an experienced  trade union and community activist and human rights campaigner. She  is the National Vice President of the Public & Commercial Services Union, the co-founder & National Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, elected to the TUC Race Relations Committee and on the Board of Advisors for Initiative for Equality.Zita founded the Roots, Culture,  Identity Art collective and curates  exhibitions to showcase the art of young black and migrant artists. She campaigns against discrimination and cuts in the arts and culture sectors.She campaigns for equality, freedom, justice and human rights through art, poetry and activism. She is often described as a political artist and a griot of the struggle.Zita has exhibited art at diverse venues from the Tate &  Congress House to cinemas and conferences and she has performed poetry at a broad range of events from  radio and  TV  the Houses of Parliament and Glastonbury.

‘A union for artists is important because there is an attempt to exploit and underpay artists and all workers deserve the same rights. Art has the ability to challenge discrimination and injustice, to educate, communicate ideas and to promote healing and unity.’


Pam Foley, Oxfordshire

‘There are two predominate reasons why I first joined AUE, and then decided to become a member of the Executive Committee.
As an immigrate originally from the USA (I do not call myself an ex-pat), I have experienced first hand the lack of support of visual art in the public sphere in terms of funding and as a topic of national discourse there. When I moved to the UK in 1999, I received ACE funding to purchase studio equipment, development my practice, and execute a project. The early naughties were flush years for visual artists. Public funding for individual artists has increasingly withered away as funding bodies, both public and private, support arts organisations only. As the UK becomes more like the 51st state with regard to adoption and absorption of neo-liberal ideology, I fear that without banding together, the work and lives of visual artists will become invisible with time in the UK. AUE is committed to not only working for visual artists’ rights for fair working pay and conditions, but has recently started a 2 year campaign concerned with mental health issues that can impact on visual artists (precarious working conditions, effects of austerity, low pay, to name a few). In addition, AUE is working closely with SERTUC’s Show Culture Some Love campaign. These campaigns and others are worthwhile, exciting and necessary and I want to play a small part in them.

Secondly, as an artist ‘of a certain age’ I see emphasis and attention placed on ‘young and emerging’ artists in exhibition and funding listed opportunities. While it is important to encourage those starting out on the perilous road called ‘I am a visual artist’, at the same time I want to encourage my peers who may have attended art college at a time when there were little or no tuition fees to join AUE. This is your opportunity to ‘give something back’ by taking up membership in AUE, or better still, become involved in local organising. Come on grey haired oldies – accept my challenge and JOIN!’


Martin Sundram, London
Joint National Chair

‘I have combined my own art practice with a dozen years’ professional experience within the trade union movement, working for UCU (the college and university lecturers’ union). I have also involved myself over the years in a range voluntary work within the educational sector including governance roles for the Workers’ Educational Association, a provider of adult education particularly in the humanities, currently serving as a member of WEA’s national Council. Art makes a major contribution to the nation’s economy as well as the national quality of life in today’s Britain. The creative sector as a whole punches well above its weight in making this country a cultural world leader . It is important to me that practitioners have a strong voice in shaping how this contribution is supported and developed, which is why I am honoured to be associated with this new and ambitious Union as it engages with these issues, against the backdrop of today’s challenging economic and political environment, on behalf of all artists.’


Nastassja Simensky, Nottingham

Nastassja Simensky is an artist based in Nottingham and Artist Development Coordinator at Primary.
‘Artists and art-workers need democratic representation and support in all aspects of their professional work. A robust union, which recognises artists work across a multitude of platforms, as individuals and collectively, can support members to stand with other workers to achieve fairer working conditions and to sustain their practice by challenging and improving terms of employment.’


Steve Lawes, Essex

Steve is a visual artist, poet, teacher, historian and events organiser based in Essex, London. He is an exhibiting member of the Tunnel, a London-based multidisciplinary arts collective. He has worked throughout South Essex and London on a variety of community arts and heritage projects. His visual arts tends to look at the esoteric, mysticism and religious experiences from a variety of cultures around the globe, whilst his poetry is either self-reflective introspective musings, or a comment on the places and spaces he has experienced. You can find out more about his work at www.stevelawesarts.co.uk.

‘Artists need a collective voice to promote the value of creative output within society. Due to its apparent uselessness as a tool in every day life, pieces of art and creative engagement are, for the most part, undervalued and under-appreciated by wider society. Due to funding cuts at a government level, the value and importance of art to wellbeing, health and personal fulfilment are not being taught effectively. A collective of practitioners helping each other to develop their professional skills and practice can only be of benefit to wider society.’


Richard Whitby, London

Richard is an artist, writer, lecturer and gallery technician from Liverpool, based in London.

‘Artists are workers, and workers need collective representation! Personally, I feel it took me far too long to engage with the trades union family – joining a union is a way to stand with other workers to fight for better pay and conditions. Here is a piece I wrote on joining the AUE for the Double Negative in Liverpool.’


Verity-Jane Keefe

Verity-Jane Keefe is a visual artist, working predominantly within the public realm, using moving image, text and installation to explore the complex relationships between people and place. She is interested in the role and potential of the artist within urban regeneration.  For the last decade she has been developing deep partnerships with a number of local authorities, working both with and alongside, on art commissions, planning policy work, archival and heritage projects and regeneration schemes. She is an associate lecturer at Central Saint Martins on MA Architecture and BA Fine Art.

‘I joined AUE as an artist and worker, seeking representation across the sector. Strength in numbers, power to the workers and collective voice – all things we should be striving for in all corners of the creative sector.’