Founded by Artists for Artists

The Scottish Artists Union was formally constituted in 2001, becoming the a new trade union of the Twenty-First Century. This was predated by years of research and development by artists who felt that the creation of such a union was vital. Artists across the country registered their support for the idea, giving the first Executive Committee a mandate to draw up a constitution, set membership fees and criteria.

We wanted to establish as wide a remit as possible from the very beginning. There is virtually no discipline within visual art that does not qualify for membership, and it's likely that other existing unions will better serve those that do fall outside our remit.

The criteria on which membership are designed simply to ensure that our membership is made up of professional practitioners, but we do not concern ourselves with the substance of our members work. While we of course greatly appreciate art itself, we put artists and their working lives first.

Setting up a modern trade union for poorly paid, mostly precarious workers was often difficult. Until 2017, the Scottish Artists Union was managed by our volunteer Executive Committee, assisted by part-time administrative support. However by 2016 this was no longer sustainable with our membership expanding to over 1000 members. This was when we initiated an independent organisational review in consultation with the membership. The recommendations from this report were ratified by the membership at our 2016 AGM.

We now employ six part-time staff to support our membership, finances, campaigning, lobbying and learning activities.

We have always endeavoured to ensure that in material terms the benefits  and services offered to members more than compensate them for their annual fees.

We have secured members Public & Product Liability and Public Indemnity insurance cover, free learning opportunities as well as continuing to  support our members make their professional lives sustainable.


The Scottish Artists Union is a formally constituted trade union. The constitution is the bedrock on which the union is built; a statement of our core purposes and a thorough description of the internal mechanisms of the organisation that those in charge are obligated to adhere to.

View the Scottish Artists Union Constitution here

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