About the Union

Why Join?

Why should I join the Scottish Artists Union?


The Scottish Artists Union is the ONLY representative voice for visual and applied artists in Scotland. Artists tend to work alone, individually we have little influence or political 'clout'. Together we can make policy-makers appreciate the needs and importance of artists in the Scottish cultural, social and economic scene.

On top of that you get free public liability and professional indemnity insurance, access to our free learning and professional development programme and a range of benefits including 30 minutes free legal consultation and online & in-store discounts at a number of outlets.


How does the Scottish Artists Union receive its funding?


Our core funding comes from our membership fees, these fund the work of our part-time staff and core activities. Some activity, such as our learning programme is funded by Scottish Union Learning.

Our Executive Committee members are all voluntary but we have the usual expenses for keeping the Union going.


How do I join the Scottish Artists Union?


Firstly check if you fulfill the membership criteria. These are not difficult for most professional artists; even new graduates can usually fulfil these. You can access all benefits including insurance whether you are an Associate or Full member, only voting rights are restricted to Full members.

Criteria are necessary to give the Union professional status which in turn backs up our credibility when we speak on your behalf. You can complete the membership form here.

Dual Membership

Can I be a member of the Scottish Artists Union and another union?


Yes. Although this is not the usual case, your working practice may extend across different areas that are not served by a single organisation. It is your decision if you feel that you need additional representation.

However, you may have another occupation other than that of a professional artist, which would be best served by being a member of another union specific to that industry. (For example, working in film & tv or in education).


Can I join if I live in the rest of the UK, EU or another country?


Technically we can only represent artists who live and or work as an artist in Scotland. (There are different legal and educational systems here).

However, an artist who lives elsewhere but who will be working on an extended arts project (more than 6 months) in Scotland can join for the year in which that work takes place. But we emphasise that our ability to represent you in any legal or similar way will only apply to the work you are doing in Scotland.


Do you have members' exhibitions?


The Scottish Artists Union exist to represent artists politically and campaign on your behalf. It doesn't have a remit to exhibit members work.


Do you give out information?


The Scottish Artists Union publishes information on the website relating to common areas of specific importance to artists and our Recommended Rates of Pay and Fairwork Contracts Templates can be found on this site.

We endeavour to assist members where we can, however due to the varied nature of artists’ work, we might not have the information, skills or resources to fully assist. In such cases, we will direct you to another organisations that are more suited to providing specific information on a particular issue. A list of useful resources can he found here.


Does the Union have any political affiliation?


No, we are completely independent of any political party.

Trades Union

Is the Scottish Artists Union a proper Trades Union or is 'Union' just a name?


The Scottish Artists Union is a recognised trade union that is registered with the Certification Office for Trade Unions and Employers Association and meets the requirements of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. 

Links to Unions

Does the Scottish Artists Union have links with any other Trades Unions?


Yes, we have informal links with other Unions such as Equity, the Musicians Union, Scottish Society of Playwrights, BECTU, as well as being affiliated to the STUC (Scottish Trades Union Congress).


What influence does the SAU have in Scottish politics?


The Scottish Artists Union's remit is to be vocal on political issues affecting artists. We work to have our voice heard in the most effective forums.

We lobby MSPs on cultural issues and we have had meetings with the Cultural representatives in all political parties. We have played an active part in responding to the Scottish Executive's Cultural Commission review and Culture Bill and attend meetings within the Scottish Parliament as representatives of visual artists.

We attend the Cross Party Group on Culture at the Holyrood and are on the Lobbying Register. At these forums we ensure that the needs and values of individual artists are articulated and not ignored. We are often placed alongside other representative bodies e.g. Musician's Union and Equity, and are therefore regarded as credible, representative voice for our members.

We are members of the Creative Industries lobbying organisation Culture Counts.

Creative Scotland

What is the Union's relationship with Creative Scotland?


We are in contact with Creative Scotland staff to monitor changes in policy and services and to the levels of support for individual artists and makers. We pursue any issues which give us cause for concern.

Equally we support Creative Scotland when their actions are in the best interests of artists.

Between 2019 & 2023 Creative Scotland commissioned SAU to carry out a body of research 'One Shared Owner - Mapping How Artists Work Together'.


Does the Scottish Artists Union provide speakers or representatives for open days & conferences?


Yes. The Scottish Artists Union is interested to develop discussions and promote its work in the arts at a variety of regional events. The Executive Committee will consider all requests via the email address [email protected].

Social Media

Does the Scottish Artists Union have a Facebook or Twitter page?


Yes, please search for @ScottishArtistsUnion in Facebook or Click Here.

Follow us on X/Twitter: @SCOArtistsUnion.

And, you can now follow us on Instagram: @artistsunion.scot

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