Save the Date: AGM 2020
Saturday 3rd October 2020
- Pre-AGM Event: Philip Hannay, Cloch Solicitors - Fair Work Contracts, 12.00 – 1.00pm
- Scottish Artists Union - Annual General Meeting, 2.00 - 4.30pm (members only)
This year the event will be held online, book your place via our events page, or check your recent emails for more info and links to RSVP for both events.
Dear Scottish Artists Union Artists, Associate Members and Graduate Members,
This year, the Scottish Artists Union would like to welcome you to the 2020 Annual General Meeting which will be online for the first time – due in part to the ongoing Government restrictions surrounding Covid-19, but also to enable greater participation for those unable to travel.
This, my first year as President of SAU, has encompassed the most challenging of times. In March this year the impact of Covid-19 swept through all our lives with disastrous effect on the Creative and Cultural landscape. The Executive Committee were moved by the feedback you sent us through the member surveys and member meet-ups. We were left in no doubt the impact the virus has had on your working lives and the challenges you continue to face. These powerful testaments were quoted and used as we lobbied politicians and sector bodies.
Despite Covid-19, our membership has continued to steadily increase in size. We experienced an initial drop in members as the pandemic coincided with our annual renewal process and artists were understandably facing considerable financial pressures. However, we quickly built back our membership, demonstrating the prescient need for representation for visual and applied artists. We would like to thank all of you who continue with your commitment to SAU at this difficult time. We hugely appreciate your dedication to collective action.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank our staff team and volunteer Executive Committee (EC). This year has required our staff team and EC to be resourceful and resilient as we moved from working in our office to kitchen tables and sofas – no mean feat with childcare, IT challenges, and domestic interruptions whilst on Zoom! Our annual membership renewal process was done ‘from a desk in Dennistoun’ as you may have seen from the photographs, so a big thank you to Fiona Danskin and our Membership Admin Team for the hard work involved. Our Learning Programme staff speedily moved the programme to an online format and have delivered some amazing content in response to Covid-19. Lauren Printy Currie and Kirsten Body continue to build strong connections across Scotland through our learning events.
Our Executive Committee are all volunteers and continue to do amazing work to develop our services and keep the wheels of the union turning. We have welcomed new artist members to the committee this year and it’s fantastic to have new ideas and input.
In other staffing news, we said goodbye to Gordon Dickson, our Finance and Projects Manager since 2017. Gordon steered us through our modernisation process and supported the union to implement actions from our development review. We welcomed back Meg Held in our Membership Administrative Team following maternity leave. Meg has been working on member recruitment with the EC. In December 2020 our Learning Programme Manager, Lauren will be leaving us to pursue new projects.
The Learning Programme has established itself as a valued and integral aspect of the union’s identity, largely due to the professionalism and hard work of our dedicated Learning team, and we wish Lauren all the best for the future.
Finally, this year the union have been trialling a paid presidency role. This has been in response to the increased workload required to support union development and, importantly, to meet staffing support needs. The EC continues to review this new approach and ensure that it fits with our needs and constitutional requirements.
The online provision we have established during Covid-19 has brought many more of you into contact with the union and the member meet-ups have connected artists in a positive way. We will continue to build on these connections. We aim to have an Executive Committee, which is diverse and inclusive, and we welcome members who represent: BAME; members with Additional Support Needs or Disabilities and the LGBTQI community. This year our Executive Committee has set up several new sub-groups that are looking at Intersectional, Equality and Diversity issues; membership recruitment; and we are planning to set up a youth committee to connect to our graduate members and build activists for the future of the union.
The political events of the past year continue to dominate the cultural scene across Scotland, and we have continued to attend the ‘Cross Party Group for Culture’ at the Scottish Parliament, as a way to have direct dialogue with MSP’s. In May this year we ran a press campaign highlighting the difficulties artists were experiencing due to Covid-19. We gained coverage in Arts Professional; The National; The Herald; The Press and Journal; The Morning Star and The Scotsman. Last month we met with Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture and we also met with Claire Baker MSP, Scottish Labour and with Ross Greer MSP, Scottish Green Party.
Pre Covid-19, the union was progressing on a number of projects and campaigns: we attended the Climate Change rallies in Edinburgh and Glasgow; we made a collective banner; progressed our Fair Work campaign; investigated studio rental issues and expanded our nationwide Learning Programme.
We have also connected with the local and national campaigns for Universal Basic Income and have surveyed our membership and we will continue with this focus into the 2021 Scottish Parliament Elections. Members continue to make use of the free or discounted legal services through Thompson’s Solicitors and this is a valuable recent addition to our services. Our Artists’ Run Spaces Mapping Project was paused by Covid-19, but this has recently restarted its research phase.
Prior to the AGM we will host an online event where Philip Hannay of Cloch Solicitors will introduce our template Learning Contracts and Executive Member, Janie Nicoll will give an update on the Fair Work Project and let us know how the contracts will be piloted with our members and sector agencies. You will be sent an email with a Zoom link inviting you to sign up. There will be two separate links for the pre-AGM event and the AGM itself.
We are always looking for new people to join the Executive Committee and I would like to make a special request that you consider becoming more involved and help us affect change within the sector. Our meetings are the third Wednesday or Thursday of every month, at the moment online. There is a nomination form enclosed with the AGM documents (see events page) – complete this and return to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to meeting you all at the AGM on Saturday 3rd October 2020.
With very best wishes,