Can anyone join SAU? Do I need a degree?
Any visual or applied artist working in Scotland who meets at least two of our membership criteria can join. These are not difficult for most professionals. Holding a degree is one of the listed criteria, but it carries no more weight than any other; non-graduates are very welcome! However, with regret, we cannot accept artists in secondary or tertiary education. The National Union of Students represents those at art school.
We offer membership at two levels so that less established artists and arts administrators can also join. Both Associate (meets any two criteria) and Full Members (any four) can access all benefits including insurance, but voting rights and some posts within the Executive Committee are restricted to Full Members. Established criteria are necessary to give the Union professional status and thereby credibility when we speak on artists' behalf. Check out our criteria.
What art forms are covered by SAU?
In general the SAU uses the terms 'visual artist' and 'applied artist' to indicate: painters, sculptors, multi media artists, new 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 & turners, illustrators, cartoonists, graphic artists and multi media designers. Also artists working in public space and educational and social arenas.
We do not represent technicians, theatrical performers (other than 'performance' artists), writers, musicians or art students. All of these groups are supported by other unions.
If your practice falls outside these descriptions then please contact us to discuss whether or not we will be able to offer support in your particular working environment.
How long will it take to process my membership application?
By far the most frequently asked question on this list. Please note that processing times vary but you should normally expect to wait 28 days before receiving confirmation. Your membership pack is likely to arrive after your cheque has cleared or direct debit commenced. This is important, as it is at the moment these funds clear that you become a member and coverage under our free Public Liability Insurance benefit begins. It is not possible to fast-track specific applications.
Can I get a receipt to prove my membership?
Yes. A receipt will be sent to you in the post if you request a copy when you send your application.
How can I prove membership & insurance cover to a gallery/employer?
If you have a valid SAU membership card with your own personal membership number this will verify your membership. You can show your gallery/employer paper details of the insurance policy (received as part of your membership info) and you can direct them to the SAU website or email address for more information.
If it's an Artists Union why are arts workers allowed to join?
We are often asked this question and there are several reasons. Firstly, it is often hard to differentiate the two as many artists take part time work within organisations as administrators, but continue with their practice as artists. Secondly, many arts workers want to support the artists they work with and have the best interests of artists at heart, this is often part of why they work in the sector.
Any arts worker who cannot fulfill the full criteria as an artist is only able to become an Associate member. In order to protect the Union against any potential of being 'taken over' by administrators, our Constitution does not allow associate members voting rights, limits the number of associate members on the executive committee and restricts the posts of President and Vice President to Full artist members.
To date, the Union's work has been strengthened by the support of arts worker members, particularly from administrators working for the committee who are knowledgeable about the arts infrastructure, up-to-date on new policies affecting artists and the workings of the 'system'. We feel artists should benefit from as much support from within the wider sector as possible.
Who can serve on the Executive committee?
The Executive committee is voluntary and members can be nominated (or self nominate) to join. Members can ask to come to a committee meeting as an Observer in the first instance before a decision is made. They then send a short statement about themselves and the committee then can appoint them as co-opted committee members. They stand for full election at the next AGM.
I live outside the central belt. Can I still be on the Executive?
Yes, as the Union and its Executive exist to represent artists throughout Scotland. We are committed to widening the geographical representation on the Executive and finding committee members from outside of the Central belt. As the greatest concentration of artists and our current membership and therefore committee is from within the central belt, we want that to change and are very keen to hear from any artists elsewhere in Scotland who would like to represent their area. We are open to discuss ways in which it can be possible to be part of the Executive.
Does the SAU represent members only?
In most situations we can only assist paid up members of the union. However, on some occasions specific issues may lead us to research or develop work that has been influenced through information received by non members.
If I have a dispute with my employer/gallery, can you help me?
Yes, if we believe there is a genuine grievance we will write to the person/organisation on your behalf and we will also try to find you relevant legal support and/or advice. Almost all of the problems so far brought to us by members have been related to contracts - or more specifically the ABSENCE of contracts. Without a written agreement it is very difficult to find solutions - which is why we are actively campaigning for the use of contracts to become normal practice.
If I no longer wish to be a member, can I get a refund?
No. When you join the SAU you pay for a year's membership that is non refundable. Membership is renewed annually and each member is given the choice of continuing or cancelling membership on their specific renewal date.
Nor may those re-joining after allowing their membership to elapse make back-payments.
How much does membership cost?
SAU Membership costs £35 per annum. The majority of members opt to pay monthly, in which case their direct debit is as little as £2.92 a month.
The membership fee has been frozen since the Union's inception in 2001, despite inflation and an increase in the value of benefits extended to all members. This demonstrates the SAU's commitment to support of workers whose income is among the lowest in Scotland.