Scottish Artists Union has been highly successful in campaigning for artists’ involvement in arts decision-making in Scotland, in particular in making a strong lobby to ensure that artists did not lose out in the formation of Creative Scotland from the merger between Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen.

With some 700 members and the right to lobby and speak on behalf of artists to government, SAU is run on a voluntary basis by an elected committee. Current members are: sculptor Chris Biddlecombe; painter Rowena Comrie; Freelance arts producer Chris Fremantle; Fine artist and animator Penny Sharp; illustrator Terry Anderson; visual artist and researcher Heather Delday; painter Frieda Dyson; painter Laura Hunter; sculptor Ginny Hutchison; and multi-media artists Chris Kelly and Janie Nicoll.

SAU embraces visual and applied artists from all religions, races, levels of physical ability and age groups. The terms ‘visual artist’ and ‘applied artist’ to indicate: painters, sculptors, multi media artists, printers, lens based artists, photographers, audio artists, performance artists, ceramicists, jewellers, weavers, textile artists, creative metal workers, glass artists, furniture designers, wood carvers and turners, illustrators, cartoonists, graphic artists and multi-media designers. Also included are artists working in public spaces and educational and social arenas. Full membership can be conferred on artists who meet any four of the following criteria, or Associate membership for those who meet any two:

  • You have received one or more public body or corporate commissions or four or more private commissions.
  • You have had two or more public exhibitions and/or public installations and/or public performances, not including a degree show.
  • You have received one or more prizes, awards or bursaries for professional practice.
  • You hold a degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant area.
  • You have been engaged by contractual agreement in an artist’s placement scheme (eg a residency).
  • Your work has been purchased for one or more public collections or four or more private collections.
  • Your work has been made available for sale through one or more commercial galleries or agents within the last five years.
  • You have obtained membership of one or more professional associations or societies.
  • Your artwork has been reviewed or featured in an art journal, magazine or newspaper.

Following discussions at the meeting, it has been agreed that SAU and AIR will explore a number of areas for partnership working, including an exchange of members on the respective committees, participation as part of a UK-wide network of artists’ organisations within ECA and development of an AIRTIME event in Scotland. January 2010