Visual, applied and socially engaged artists in England now have a certified trade union to represent them. 

Photo of woman painting

Palladius (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Artists’ Union England (AUE) has been formally certified as the first trade union representing visual, applied and socially engaged artists in England.

The ‘certificate of independence’ provides formal recognition that AUE is independent of employers’ influence and operates democratically for and on behalf of its professional membership.

Announcing its new status, 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.”

The founding group of visual artists initially launched the union in May 2014, but obtaining the certificate of independence was a three-year process that began in 2013.

The costs of certification have been covered by donations from individuals and other trade unions, including the Scottish Artists Union, which has been operating since 2001.  

Liz Hill