Members Update 13 November 2020

Members Update 13 November 2020


This is a members update containing information about two upcoming events that you can attend, and a reminder about the Hardship Fund and our "Seeing Red" campaign. 


STUC Fringe Event

We wanted to let you know about two upcoming events :

1.  The annual STUC Congress takes place next week, as a one day online event on Tuesday. All affiliated unions can send delegates and there will be representatives from SAU Staff and Executive Committee attending. 

There will also be a free STUC Fringe event open to all of our members on Sunday 15th November at 5pm. This event will consist of presentations from trade unions from the cultural sector, including SAU President, Lynda Graham, who will be on the panel discussing precarity specific to the Visual Arts sector, and possible funding solutions, including Universal Basic Income. We hope you can come along. Links to more information and the event are below.

STUC Fringe event: Please see the flyer above for more details and the link to the event is available below.

2.  Could a basic income better support Scotland’s arts?

How could a basic income help relieve some of the pressures of the present moment and build a more resilient foundation for artists?

A free online event, on Wednesday 2 December 2020, at 19:00 – 20:30. 

The current crisis - and government responses to it - have highlighted the precarious situation that many artists and creatives have to experience. From falling through the gaps in the patchwork of Covid support payments to having to live from one commission to the next, the pandemic has only exacerbated the existing difficulties that artists face.

In this online event, artists from across Scotland give their experiences as we shine a light on the current scale of the crisis facing many creative practitioners in Scotland today. Then, discussion will turn to how a basic income could help relieve some of the pressures of the present moment and build a more resilient foundation for artists to practice their work in the future.

Organised by Basic Income Network Scotland, CBIN, check out this link to more information and an Eventbrite link to book your place.


The second round of Hardship Funding for Creative Freelancers reopened on Tuesday 10th November with an additional £3 Million added to the fund by the Scottish Government. This fund will only be available until the money runs out so we advise our members to apply as soon as they can to avoid disappointment.

  • those applying through Creative Scotland and delivery partners can do so through the online portal available on the Creative Scotland Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers page. Applicants will be asked to register before being channelled to the relevant funding partner to complete their application. This Funding will be distributed by :

Visual Arts Scotland; The Crafts Council and Craft Scotland; Society of Authors;  Help MusiciansBECTU

and by Creative Scotland.  In our last newsletter we gave a summary of information about the funding: you can see this on our corresponding blogpost here. It will be in the form of a one off payment in amounts between £500 and £2000. Eligibility requirements will be an ability to prove that you are a creative freelancer, being resident in Scotland, being in immediate financial difficulty due to the pandemic, and not being eligible for other forms of support.

Seeing Red Campaign:

We want to thank all our members who have sent us their pictures and quotes, and participated in our #SeeingRed Campaign; by posting Red images on social media with the hashtags #SeeingRed and #SeeingRedSAU; also giving us quotes about how hard things are for creative practitioners due to the pandemic. 

Here are #SeeingRed images kindly sent to us by members:    

"Glacial Eruption" by Fenneke Wolters-Sinke.  @fenfolio

Glacial Eruption


Over the coming weeks we will continue to circulate your images and we will be creating a template to enable you to right letters to your MP/ MSP's, especially in the run up to the Scottish Government Elections next year. 

Keep sending us your images and any quotes about how tough life has become. We intend to create a showcase on our website and will be promoting this widely over the coming months.


seeing red crop

Seeing Red – our new campaign to highlight the ongoing difficulties facing artists and makers due to the impact of Covid-19.

  • 81% of our members are self-employed or freelance

  • 53% did not qualify for government support during Covid-19

  • 83% earn less than £10k per year

  • 88% do not get contracts consistently

  • 61% receive less than the industry standard rates of pay

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the limitations of government support for those not able to work, and the chronic underfunding of the arts in general, with an infrastructure weakened by years of austerity and Local Authority budget cuts.

We have been advised by the politicians that we need to "make more noise" about the difficulties experienced within our sector and we need you to get involved to help us raise awareness of the precariousness of the arts and culture sector, and the Visual Arts and crafts sector in particular.

If we are going to 'build back better' and have a thriving arts community beyond this period, we need to act now to call for support for creative freelancers, many of whom feel forgotten and are wondering how they can continue to sustain a professional working life.

We are calling for you to support our campaign and you can get involved in a number of ways:

  • Send us your Red images and quotes about the importance of the arts so that we can circulate them on our social networks - please send a JPEG image (of less than 2 MB) or your quotes  to us at [email protected]
  • Post your Red images on your own social networks with the hashtag #SeeingRed or #SeeingRedSAU
  • Share the Seeing Red logo on social media and post a ‘red’ image on Instagram
  • Download and print our Seeing Red poster image 
  • Donate to the Scottish Artists Union here
  • Write to your MP/MSP/Councillor
  • Support our Fair Work Contract
  • Support our campaign for Universal Basic Income
  • Join the union or encourage a friend to join here

Check out our social media posts and please share on Twitter: @SCOArtistsUnion | FB: ScottishArtistsUnion | Instagram:

Artist Sam Ainsley (former Head of MFA, Glasgow School of Art) is supporting our campaign and has said:

“This is a really important campaign and I hope all artists in Scotland will support it. The Visual Arts have long been the least acknowledged or supported sector of the arts despite the fact that visual artists in general have the lowest and most unstable income. Entry to all Visual Arts exhibitions are usually free and this may account (at least in part) for the low esteem in which artists are held when it comes to support and funding outside of specialised funding agencies. All Visual Artists I know spend a majority of their time and what little money they have to make work they believe in with no immediate possibility of return. In these Covid 19 times, it is even worse, almost all commissions and exhibitions have been postponed if not cancelled depriving Visual Artists of often their only source of income. We must make the Scottish Government aware of our plight and ask for increased support that is readily available and soon. The support of the arts are the symbol of a civilised society; without it, we become less than human. Please, please support this campaign in any way you can, personal circumstances; quotes about the importance of the arts (visual arts in particular) or anything else you feel is relevant.” 

Support Your Union!!  Together We Are Stronger!!

There’s never been a more important time to be part of a union, help us fight for a new ‘normal’ that supports the arts and culture!! If you want to help SAU further please encourage fellow artists to join up, or get involved with the Executive Committee by attending our meetings (all currently online!). Email us and we will send you the link. 

Please help us promote the activities of the union on social media by following us and sharing posts.

We are here to help. We are a small team of part time workers and a voluntary executive, currently email is the best way to get in touch. 
Stay safe & healthy everyone.  

Yours in Solidarity, 
Everyone at Scottish Artists Union


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