After four years of development and membership programmes AIR – Artists Interaction and Representation has completed research to launch a modern, timely infrastructure for representation, designed so many artists can debate, identify and activate research and campaigns to enhance artists’ working lives and advance their professional status in society.

The impetus to create a participatory and inclusive framework that enables artists to represent themselves and the concerns and needs of their profession within decision-making came from the AIR membership itself. When surveyed in 2009, 90% of members said they wanted AIR to “lead campaigns for increased representation of artists’ concerns to government and policymakers”.

The AIR Representation Working Group took up the challenge, consulting with members about the kinds of organisation they related to and their communication preferences. Analysis followed of the effectiveness and communication methods of twenty-four representative organisations, pressure groups and campaigning bodies. These included several European artists’ membership bodies or unions, RSA Fellowship Council, Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Discussions were also held with independent electoral service providers.

What does representation mean for artists? For artists, representation is a way to ensure their “voice is heard”, to be “trusted and naturally respected”, and because of representation “exploitation – through poor remuneration and employment practice – will be a thing of the past”. As Steven Paige and Rebecca Weeks comment: “‘Representation’ [is] a societal mechanism that translates the worth attributed to artists into a process that harnesses their skills and knowledge and allows it to be translated into policy, philosophy and or action”.

Here you can read what a selection of AIR members are saying about what representation will look and feel like for artists and the campaigns that AIR should prioritise. AIR’s mission and objectives are also set out, along with membership options and responses to some of the frequently asked questions about AIR and its intentions, relationships and expectations. July 2010