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Visual Artists Ireland Residency Award

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Visual Artists Ireland
in partnership with The Tyrone Guthrie Centre
Tyrone Guthrie Centre

The Visual Artists Ireland Residency Award is open to all members of Visual Artists Ireland. The award provides a one week fully paid residency/retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. The residency will be self-catering, and will provide accommodation and a studio facility. Further details about the Centre can be found on their website

The award is only available to individual artists. It is not suitable for group applications.

Only online applications will be accepted. The deadline is 5:30pm, Friday 15th December 2017. No applications will be accepted after that date. To ensure that the system is fair for all, there can be no exceptions to this. For that reason we recommend that you do not leave it until the last minute to make your application.

The winner will be announced in the second half of January 2018.

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Visual Artists Ireland Residency Award 2018 – Call for Applications ...

The Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, and the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, have today (Monday) announced the details of new arrangements to make it easier for artists and writers to access social welfare supports. The Ministers made the announcement at Poetry Ireland’s new headquarters on Parnell Square, Dublin 1.

The initiative, which is a key commitment under the Creative Ireland Programme, will assist self-employed artists who apply to the Department of Social Protection for Jobseekers Allowance. The pilot initiative, which will be reviewed after one year, will apply to visual artists and writers. Under the new mechanism, the Department of Social Protection will provide for the classification of self-employed professional artists.  Such artists would not be subject to the activation process for 12 months.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:
“Artists are at the very centre of the Creative Ireland programme, and I have been particularly keen for some time now to do more to recognise the income challenges faced by artists. This pilot scheme is not a panacea, but it is a clear sign that the Government recognises the vital role that artists play in Irish society and that we respect and value their contribution.

“I would like to thank Minister Varadkar for his consistent support for this initiative. We first met to discuss this idea early last year, and Leo has been very supportive ever since. I would also like to thank the Arts Council which has provided invaluable support and advice as to how the scheme should operate. I would also like to thank the Irish Writers Centre and Visual Artists Ireland for their input and guidance. Getting this far has been a team effort.

“This is a pilot initiative which will initially be available to writers and visual artists. The issue of income for artists is something that has been raised with me on a regular basis, so I hope this pilot initiative can be seen as a very positive step for the arts community. We will closely monitor the implementation of the pilot initiative, before considering whether extending the arrangements to professional artists in other disciplines.”

Speaking at the announcement Minister Varadkar said:
“Ireland is world-famous as a haven for art and artists who central to our culture. This reputation for artistic achievement is part of our global USP. Promoting Ireland as a home for art and artists is central to my plans to double our global footprint in the years ahead. I believe it is only right that we allow for some flexibility within the social welfare system to allow artists to access social welfare supports when they need them. Up to now, artists have found it difficult to access social welfare and of course many artists take on extra jobs to support their livelihoods.

“Following extensive work between both Departments, with input from the Arts Council, this new mechanism will allow professional self-employed artists to be classified as such for the purposes of accessing social welfare supports. I welcome the involvement of Visual Artists Ireland and the Irish Writers Centre in this process. The normal checks and balances will apply to ensure the initiative is not open to abuse, but it is my hope that this will make it much easier for professional artists to access social welfare supports when they need them.

“I am really excited and enthusiastic about the Creative Ireland programme, which has the potential to be transformative in terms of public policy. It’s something we can all get involved in. Creative Ireland sets out to help more people take part in art and cultural activities, and above all to enjoy them.”


Further details on the scheme:

This initiative will assist self-employed artists who apply to the Department of Social Protection (DSP) for Jobseekers Allowance. The pilot initiative will apply to visual artists and writers.

Such artists would not be subject to the activation process for 12 months.

Arrangements will be introduced on a pilot basis and will apply to visual artists and writers.  The option of extending the arrangements to professional artists in other disciplines will be considered later.

Once a person has been classified as a self-employed artist on the DSP system they would not be subject to activation process for at least a year. The other conditions associated with jobseeker’s allowance will continue to apply, as they do for all other claimants.

A professional self-employed artist applying to DSP would:

  • Provide a certificate/declaration from their professional body as to their status as a professional artist. The appropriate body for visual artists is Visual Artists Ireland and for writers the appropriate body is The Irish Writer’s Centre.
  • Be registered as self-employed with the Office of the Revenue Commissioners and at least 50% of the person’s income should have been derived from their art in the preceding year.

It is important to note that this scheme will operate in addition to the Artists’ Tax Exemption. Under Section 195 of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997, the first €50,000 per annum of profits or gains earned by writers, composers, visual artists and sculptors from the sale of their work is exempt from income tax in Ireland in certain circumstances.

Creative Ireland:
Creative Ireland Programme is an all of Government five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy. It is built around five pillars: Enabling the Creative Potential of Every Child; Enabling Creativity in Every Community; Investing in our Creative and Cultural Infrastructure; Ireland as a Centre of Excellence in Media Production; Unifying our Global Reputation. Further information on Creative Ireland is available at

Positive step for professional artists and writers as Ministers Humphreys ...

Visual Artists Ireland today welcomed the new pilot initiative which will acknowledge the professional status of visual artists and writers applying for Jobseeker’s Allowance. The pilot is being developed in partnership between the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, as part of a key commitment to artists under the Creative Ireland programme. Visual Artists Ireland and The Irish Writers Centre have assisted in providing expert knowledge for the scheme and have been invited to facilitate the one-year pilot scheme. Both organisations are approved to certify the professional status of visual artists and writers through their respective professional membership schemes. (Details on practicalities of the scheme outlined below).

Noel Kelly, CEO of Visual Artists Ireland stated “We have made many submissions concerning the status of visual artists in Ireland.  The most recent of which was a direct response to the 2025 consultation which has informed Creative Ireland. These submissions to the Department and to the Arts Council have included areas which have contributed to the introduction of equitable payment policies for visual artists working with Arts Council funded organisations and projects; the design of new interactions between artists and teachers in the provision of arts in education; input into the new recommendations for art in education curriculum; the provision of placing the arts in the outward promotion of Ireland in trade missions; the raising of visual arts coverage in media; and the importance of support of visual arts at a local level (on-going).

We welcome this announcement by The Minister for Social Protection, Leo Varadkar TD, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, and thank the staff of both departments for the opportunity to discuss in detail how this new recognition of visual artists as professionals can work to the benefit of the many.  For artists it is worth noting that our provision of documents outlining the life cycle of a visual artist will allow artists to take the following into consideration when approaching social welfare:

  1. An up to date VAI membership card (Professional Members) will be one way to clearly indicate their status of an artist;
  2. The existing support system is designed within the existing Social Welfare system which has a condition of actively looking for employment, artists who are applying for commissions, exhibitions, curatorial visits, outreach work etc will have this recognised as actively looking for work;
  3. The wide variety of income earning opportunities available to visual artists will be recognised under the scheme.”

He continued “We recognise that this is a one year pilot scheme and will monitor it during the first twelve months. During this time we will continue our conversations with both departments to ensure that the visual artist’s voice will continue to be central to the conversation. We will also continue to look at promoting change that allows for more income generating opportunities for visual artists both at a policy level and at a practical level such as our eBulletins, Websites, and Social Media. In particular the proposal to change the ceiling for the Per Cent for Art Scheme, the provision of space for visual artists to work, and the lowering of the Artists Resale Right threshold are three items that we are concerned with at the moment and sit alongside the day to day practical work that we undertake to support individual artists at all stages of their careers.”

Visual artists and writers who wish to be recognised as professional fulfil specific criteria including demonstrating proof of  exhibitions, events, and official recognition of their practice. Further details are on our website under the Membership Area here. VAI issues professional members with a Membership Card which shows their level of membership based on fulfilling specific criteria.  This card will facilitate their claim, and they can evidence their search for employment by producing evidence of applications for exhibitions, commissions, outreach programmes and a specific range of  applications for income generating opportunities undertaken as part of the visual artists professional life.  These will be recognised as legitimate forms of job-seeking. It is important to note that there are no changes to the eligibility rules nor the conditions for applications for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Visual Artists Ireland provides practical support to visual artists in all art forms throughout their careers. It provides services, facilities and resources for artists, operates an artistic programme and acts as an advocate for the interests of artists. Further details about our work is available here.

The Practical Details of the Scheme

If you are unemployed or experiencing periods of very low income, you may be paid either Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA) or Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB). Both payments are paid by the Department of Social Protection (DSP). Benefit offers entitlements to those who have PAYE income and have credits that can be drawn upon.  Allowance is based on means testing.

Under this new scheme, the criteria for Jobseekers Allowance remains the same, but professional visual artists who are self-employed will be able to have as their primary profession – Visual Artist. This has not been recognised in the past and has been difficult to access for artists who are registered as self-employed. The new system now makes this easier and artists will no longer have to hide their primary profession so as to access supports.

You will need to be able to give evidence that you are a professional visual artist. An up to date VAI Professional Level Membership Card will be an accepted way to prove that a person is a professional artist. The card is not a mandatory condition. It facilitates, but, if you prefer to prove your professional status without VAI membership you can do so. The reason the VAI Professional Membership Card is accepted is because DSP have recognised that artists must give evidence of meeting professional status criteria when applying to VAI, and will accept membership of the representative body for visual artists in Ireland as proof, rather than the social welfare staff making that assessment. Front line officials for Social Welfare are not in a position to assess if an applicant is a professional artist or not and will err on the side of caution. This is the reason that they have decided to use the VAI card as valid proof.

More information on VAI Membership below.

Artists must be registered with Revenue as self-employed to avail of this scheme. If you are registered as self employed you are also eligible for Artist Tax Exemption. Many artists have benefited from this scheme. It is not always apparent that it can be of benefit to artists, so we recommend taking professional advice and to research thoroughly before making a decision that the exemption is not for you. More information on Artist Tax Exemption below.

Jobseeker’s Allowance is means-tested and your means must be below a certain level to qualify. Artists must gain 50% or more from their work as a professional visual artist. If, for example, you have a declared income of 6k, 3k should be from your practice as an artist. This includes income from all forms of work that an artist undertakes, for example: exhibitions – sales and artist fees, commissions, juried competitions, funding awards, workshop facilitation, arts & craft classes, guest lecturing, specialist panels, public speaking & artist talks, etc.

Like all Jobseekers, artists must be available for work and actively seeking work. You must also be genuinely seeking work to qualify for Jobseeker’s Allowance – and you must be able to show evidence of this to the Department of Social Protection. This new scheme now allows visual artists to include as evidence the following activities that form the everyday life of a visual artist: applications for exhibitions, funding, education and outreach opportunities and any other examples you have of actively pursing opportunities related to your practice that could potentially generate income. This being available for work now takes into allowance the range of work that visual artists undertake.

Arts Council policy states that all of their funded organisations must pay artists, this income qualifies as being paid for work. We have to also understand that some artists volunteer. It is clear that such voluntary work may become difficult if it is placed before Social Welfare as a block to being available for work. There is no easy answer here and it will depend on each individual’s interaction with Social Welfare to understand how and what volunteering can be done.

Activation will not be expected in the first 12 months. this means that visual artists will not be eligible to attend training courses in other occupations during that period. VAI is continuing our conversations so that we can have them consider changes to the activation period that begins after 12 months so that it is more relevant to visual artists. We would like that visual artists who are actively seeking work and also undertaking professional on-going learning to enhance their income opportunities can be taken into consideration if it comes to the activation process.

So, finally, what the scheme is:

  • This recognises visual artists as professionals.
  • This scheme is designed to support artists during times when their incomes are low and to provide support to develop income opportunities.
  • It is designed for visual artists who have no other means of approaching Social Welfare, ie Credits etc.

What this scheme is not:

  • This scheme is not a replacement for disability allowances, carer’s allowance, or other specialist social welfare supports.
  • This scheme is not a state pension
  • This scheme is not a replacement for gaining visual arts specific supports from funding bodies.

VAI Membership

VAI members who are registered as Professional Level can use their card as a form of proof of their status.

We deliver a lot of our services for free, but with membership you will find that there are additional supports that we offer.  As well as contributing to the development of our services for individual professional artists, you will also be contributing to the on-going work that we undertake on the behalf of artists.

Annual Professional and Associate Membership Fee:

  • €25 for Unwaged/ Student / OAP
  • €50 with secondary income to support their practice

All Professional and Associate members are entitled to:

  • Avail of all Visual Artists Ireland services, facilities and resources
  • Receive the Visual Artists’ News Sheet by post (6 issues per year)
  • Access the journal Printed Project online (2 issues per year)
  • Be included on the Visual Artists Ireland database and receive mail-shots of events and opportunities
  • Inclusion on our members’ contact area of the Visual Artists Ireland website
  • eligible for inclusion within the ArtQuest studio exchange programme
  • Rent equipment and utilise in-house resources at subsidised rates
  • Receive a membership card, which entitles you to discounts at a wide range of art material suppliers and service providers
  • A reduction on fees charged for workshops and events
  • Propose artists projects such as symposia, exhibitions, seminars or workshops to the Visual Artists Ireland Board

Professional members are also entitled to –

  • Vote at the AGM
  • Nominate professional members for election on to the Board of Directors
  • Stand for election to the Board of Directors
  • Propose items for the AGM agenda
  • Act as a VAI nominated artist on commission/selection panels

There are 4 types of membership:

  • Professional Membership – For any artist who fulfils three or more of the professional status criteria listed below
  • Student/Associate Membership – For any emerging artist who does not yet fulfil these criteria
  • Organisation – Galleries, arts centres, studios etc may sign up under our  ‘Organisation’  rate in order to receive a subscription to magazines and other services.
  • Friend – Individuals & non-artists may sign up as  ‘Friends’ of the organisation  in order to receive a subscription to magazines and other services.

In order to qualify for Professional Membership you need to meet 3 of the following 7 criteria.

  • Degree or Diploma from a recognised third level college in Fine Art or an Associated Discipline
  • One-person show (including time based events) in a recognised gallery or exhibition space.
  • Participation in an exhibition/visual art event which was selected by a jury in which professional artists or recognised curators participated.
  • Work has been purchased by Government, local authority, museum or corporate client.
  • Work has been commissioned by Government, local authority, museum or corporate client.
  • Have been awarded a bursary, residency, materials grant or otherwise grant aided by the Arts Council/Arts Council of Northern Ireland or other funding body.
  • Have been awarded tax-exempt status by the Revenue Commissioners, or are on schedule D as a self-employed artist in Northern Ireland.

For more information and to join/renew click here.

Artist Tax Exemption

In order to get Artist Tax Exempt status – to be exempt from paying Income Tax, you will need to be registered as self-employed. Once you become self-employed you fall within the provisions of self-assessment for tax purposes. This means that you are personally responsible for ensuring that your tax affairs are kept up to date. From a financial view point the primary advantage of being self-employed is that you are given greater flexibility in the expenses you can claim for tax purposes.

To apply for Artists Exemption, you should submit a claim form to the Revenue Commissioners, together with samples of your work and any supporting documentation that you consider appropriate. You will not be able to make a joint application for this exemption.

You will need the following samples and supporting documents for the following categories:

• Books or other writing – 1 published copy of the book
• Plays – a copy of the play, together with a production contract
• Musical compositions – CDs or cassettes
• Paintings or other similar pictures- 8/10 photographs or slides, invoices and your CV, if available
• Sculptures – 8/10 photographs or slides, invoices and your CV, if available.

Revenue Application Form can be downloaded online:

There is an annual cap on Artist Exemption of €40,000. Any artist exempt profits above this threshold are taxed as normal. If you are under this threshold of 40,000 but earning higher than usual it will affect your USC and PRSI.

Useful Links

More info on Jobseekers Allowance from Citizens Information here:

Tax & Self Employment for Artists

VAI Membership

Department of Social Protection:

Creative Ireland:

Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs:

VAI Help-Desk: , 01 6729488

Visual Artists Ireland Welcomes New Visual Artists and Writers Social ...

Visual Artists Ireland today announced that a new online archive for past editions of The Visual Artists News Sheet is now available on (

The Visual Artists News Sheet is an important record of the Visual Arts in Ireland. As well as news and events, the Visual Artists News Sheet offers comment and opinion from key experts in topical areas.  The new online edition is accessible to historians, students, artists, and anyone concerned with modern and contemporary art to review opinion and events since 2009.  Making this available to the general public for free has long been an ambition.  It represents part of VAI’s preparation for our 40th anniversary in 2020.

Further work is taking place around VAI’s physical archive which contains back numbers of the News Sheet as well as The Sculptors’ Society of Ireland Newsletter. The archive further augments which contains extracts from current editions of The Visual Artists News Sheet and allows for commentary and interaction with fellow readers.

This new digital archive, which will continue to grow as materials become available and will be made further available as part of VAI’s project due for delivery in September of this year which will address VAI’s online presence and how we can disseminate our information and services even more effectively.

Visual Artists Ireland announces new online archive for The Visual ...

Join us for a day out in Belfast, meeting Belfast Galleries, and come to the party to announce the 2017 Suki Tea Art Prize Winner in Twin Spires, the centre of Suki Tea world!

We invite you to attend this one day event on Friday, 9th June 2017 to find out more about the visual arts exhibition spaces in Belfast. We will have a guided walking tour of the exhibition spaces in the city. This networking and information event will be an excellent opportunity to meet other artists and arts organisations in an informal setting.

A light lunch will be served in our offices during the day. After the tour you are invited to attend the party to announce this year’s winner of the Suki Tea Art Prize. In its second year, last year’s prize winner was Colin Darke which was announced in an event in Stormont. This year we are excited to be allowed into the Suki Tea Factory where we will be joined by Oscar and his team who have promised a memorable evening.

The winner will receive a two month research based residency in The Irish Cultural Centre in Paris. The prize covers accommodation, one return flight, and a stipend of €700 per month. The prize offers great opportunities for visual artists to tap into the resources of the CCI and the City of Light, as well as being an important means of showcasing Ireland’s dynamic contemporary culture on an international stage.

This is a VAI members only event.  To make a booking, log in to the members area with your registered email. If you haven’t used this section yet, then select the forgotten password option and you will be sent your specific login details.  If you don’t receive an email reply then contact the office and we can double check that we have the correct email on file.

Places are limited to 40 seats on the bus, so we recommend booking now so that you can guarantee a place for this fun and useful day out.

The bus will leave our offices in Dublin at 10am and will return approximately 10pm that evening.

Visual Artists Ireland, Windmill View House, 4 Oliver Bond Street, Dublin 8

Further details and how to book can be found at:!event/2017/6/9/vai-members-day-out-in-belfast-meet-belfast-galleries-and-join-us-for-a-party-to-announce-the-2017-suki-tea-art-prize-winner

If you wish to become a member of VAI, follow this link

VAI Members Day Out in Belfast – Meet Belfast Galleries ...

As VAI has grown over the years we have seen many changes to our website as we seek to find ways to provide information that can be trusted.  Due to the complexity and wide ranging nature of our work, it has been difficult for us to come upon a 100% accepted design for the site. This year we are looking to engage a user interface architect to look at the site to see if we can create an even better user experience. The first step in this is a small user survey which we hope that you will take the time to complete.  Please note that this is only for at the moment.  We will be looking at and at a later stage.


Website Survey:

advocacyThe launch on Thursday 8th December by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, of the Creative Ireland Programme / Clár Éire Ildánach has been greeted with largely positive support by the arts.  As always, a sector that has seen many initiatives over the years which appear to drift into forms different from first conceived, or indeed forgotten, remains to be convinced by the detail of the delivery of the document.

The release of this document has given us, in VAI, time to review the impact of our various submissions to government and a chance for us to look at what we have achieved. As we can see there are several areas that we have actively campaigned for and have provided written submissions to government about.

The Arts in Education

The importance of ensuring that culture is placed central in all levels of education, ie. Moving from STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) to STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) and how this move can enhance not only the education experience of student, but also look to a long term goal of our education system delivering more rounded civic responsibility as part of our citizenship. Although this full firm commitment is some time away, we can see two recent initiatives that are clearly moving in the right direction.

Recent developments from the Arts in Education Charter show that it has moved away from the odd idea of a creative dividend for artists who deliver within this system. Instead what is currently being delivered is a sound education programme bringing artists and teachers together in the form of mentoring workshops so that arts teachers and artists become more versed in how collaborations can happen in the school room.

Creative Ireland has also undertaken to prioritise children’s access to art, music, drama and coding; enhance the provision of culture and creativity in every community; further develop Ireland as a global hub for film and TV production; empower and support our artists; drive investment in our cultural institutions; and further enhance our global reputation abroad.” There is an outline of what will mean and how it will be delivered. There is a similarity with various initiatives that already exist and it is our hope that this builds on their successes rather than tries to displace them.

Social Welfare

Specific to our response to Culture 2025 on behalf of Visual Artists Ireland, dated Tuesday, 29 September 2015, in which we asked that “Ireland must adopt a specific social insurance regime by which the precarious nature of artists’ lives is recognised and artists are given the opportunity to benefit from social coverage under the same conditions as salaried or self-employed workers with the addition of a sector funded top up for those who currently fail to qualify for automatic assistance due to gaps in payments as a result of their precarious incomes”, there has been a significant response.  Since the submission we have had a number of chats with the Department to discuss the practical way that this could be rolled out and also provided them with details on the current situation in dole offices.  Therefore, we are delighted to see that the discussions have been fruitful.

During our conversations, We have been told that artists who are registered as self-employed can approach social welfare; look for assistance; declare themselves as professional artists; say that they wish to continue their work as professional artists and don’t need retraining (as per this scheme) just cover to bring them up to a level of income for an extended period. Artists may have to provide evidence to prove that they are professional artists, in a similar way that artists must fulfil certain criteria to be a full professional member of VAI. To be clear, this is a top up payment to bring a person up to what they would receive on social welfare. It is based on an existing system for self-employed workers which allow it to be an egalitarian opportunity, despite being lauded as specific to artists. As an aside, we have always found change and progress is made easier when we look for other areas where precedence is set and we can show how visual artists can benefit from being included. This will take time to filter down to each office… but that is now with that department to make it happen. We will update ourselves on the roll out of this and make all aware of the process and how to gain direct access to it.

Promotion of Irish Culture Abroad

Also in our submissions we have requested since “Culture Ireland also supports the commercial sector promoting itself abroad, we suggest that this role continues in the form of Culture Ireland being reformed to work with organisations such as Tourism Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. This will allow a pressure on all trade missions or initiatives to include a cultural aspect in their delivery. This has proven successful when reading about the benefits that were reaped by the awareness of Riverdance when opening the Chinese market. It has also been to the benefit of other countries that have this policy in place. The arts have access into a wide range of decision makers internationally who often attend openings and sit at the same dinner tables as artists. These are influencers that trade seek access to. Simply put, culture in all of its forms can ease passage in the development of foreign business.”

This is now clearly delivered in the new Creative Ireland programme.  Of course the detail has yet to be defined. Organisations who are already active in this area have been appointed to oversee it, and it is our hope that the broad spectrum of Irish Contemporary Culture will be given the opportunities of engaging internationally in the same way that our more traditional culture has been used in the past.  We laud the success of Riverdance and hope that different areas of practice and experience are also given the opportunities offered by international exposure.  We suggest that a national panel is set up with oversight that opportunities are offered in an equal manner both geographically and to cover different levels of experience and types of practice.

Payments for Visual Artists

What is clearly missing from the document is a commitment to respect artists who deliver this programme by guaranteeing that they are paid.  Already The Arts Council and almost all Local Authorities have these policies and practices in place. But, there is now a need to put pressure on the government to adopt this policy and to clearly show where the programme will rely on artists and clearly state where it is assumed it will rely on volunteerism.

We have included in our submissions “we request that a clear directive is sent to each government department, semi-state body, and other funded or government supported bodies, that it is the clear expectation that artists are equitably remunerated for any work that they undertake. The onus must be placed on the commissioning body, or “employer” that they budget in the correct manner and do not reply on untoward pressure that is placed on artists to deliver for free or for some hugely discounted rate ‘if they wish to work’ with such bodies.” We will continue to push this through as it will be key to the impact of this programme on the lives of individual artists.

Partially achieved

Infrastructural provision

In recent months we have also seen the provision from the Department of funding for the support of arts organisations in terms of their infrastructure and capital investment.  We have offered a submission that stated “There is little doubt that the provision of capital investment from the department in recent years has been sporadic. This has left the sector with buildings that have become difficult to maintain and resources that should be directed to cultural programming have been needed to ensure compliance with regulations as well as their maintenance.

Capital funding should be returned to the Arts Council as it had been in previous years, with only major construction projects and the support of the National Cultural Institutions remaining with the department, managed in partnership with the Arts Council.

There is also clear evidence that not all organisations wish to own their buildings nor do some local authorities have the wherewithal to maintain them. There is a need for a four tiered approach:

  1. Full state or local authority ownership and provision of key institutions with contractual undertakings (SLAs) for their on-going sustainable support;
  2. Zero Interest Micro loans to allow organisations develop self-sustaining affordable spaces. The provision of these micro loans to be measured on the proven ability of such organisations to support and run their organisations as sustainable businesses at a low cost to themselves or to the members of the group/organisation/programme.
  3. The support of the provision of legislation that will allow those not for profit organisations who wish to have full autonomy to obtain low interest mortgages to buy their own buildings and to become fully independence.
  4. A maintenance and development fund for existing buildings that is accessed as part of annual funding applications.”

We will continue with our work researching this specific area both locally and nationally and in particular focus on the provision of visual artists workspaces.  There are many groups working in this area that we are currently working with in looking at different models that can be adopted.  In particular the support of the Arts Council with the increase of the Workspace Scheme from 30,000 Euro to 40,000 Euro limit is to be acknowledged and welcomed.  We can also see nascent co-operative live work spaces as a key alternative to existing models.  Also, our work in the area of creating self-sustaining studios has gained some interest. We have also been in discussion with property developers in very open and frank conversations about how they can be brought into the area of low cost provision. we will continue to look at ways that this can be implemented in the future and present these to government as they become solid proposals.

Still to come

There are several areas that we continue to push for.

The Legal Status of the Artist

At present Ireland has no full legal definition on the status of the artist. The only true recognition lies in tax legislation. It is therefore important that Ireland formally adopts primary legislation recognising the legal status of artists and uses this to recognise artists’ rights as professionals and creators.

An overview of this vision (boldly referencing the Canadian Status of the Artist Act S.C. 1992, c. 33 Assented to 1992-06-23) recognises:

  • the importance of the contribution of artists to the cultural, social, economic and political enrichment of Ireland;
  • the importance to Irish society of conferring on artists a status that reflects their primary role in developing and enhancing Ireland’s artistic and cultural life, and in sustaining Ireland’s quality of life;
  • the role of the artist, in particular to express the diverse nature of the Irish way of life and the individual and collective aspirations of Irish citizens;
  • that artistic creativity is the engine for the growth and prosperity of dynamic cultural industries in Ireland; and
  • the importance to artists that they be compensated for the use of their works, including the public lending of them.

The above to be based on:

  • the right of artists and producers to freedom of expression;
  • the right of artists and producers to specific statutory supports;
  • the right of artists to produce in an environment that is respectful and cognitive of the artist as a professional with all of the associated rights.

Income Averaging

The precarious nature of artists’ income remains a difficult issue. In terms of Revenue Payments, and in keeping with systems already in place for Farmers, Fishermen, and Fisherwomen, we ask that income averaging is introduced. This will allow artists to take into consideration the lean years as well as the years where they may have a higher income. Under the Tax Exemption scheme (and we will discuss this separately), it is only income generated through their creative practice that is eligible. For this reason it is simple to constrain the income averaging in the same way and apply it only to income generated as part of artists’ art practices and the supporting services – ie workshops, outreach programmes etc.

Other forms of Artist Incomes

In Ireland we are still in a precarious position regarding the Resale Right. Auction houses comply, other institutions with secondary sales make life very difficult unless artists are aware that their works have been sold, and there is an on-going lobby to do away with this fundamental right!

It has never been more important for us to ensure that government puts forward primary legislation that clearly defines the role of a compulsory collecting society such as IVARO and the obligation for proper timely reporting and payments.

The current statutory instrument ensures the minimum compliance with EU directives leading it to be as flawed as it is unenforceable … This specific need for action remains a top priority for VAI and IVARO.

BREXIT: Our immediate threat to North/South Co-Operation

Brexit is already effecting some of us. Rather than going into detail about that here, we will have our thoughts on this very pressing issue in the next edition of The Visual Artists News Sheet which VAI members will receive through their letterbox in early January, and which will be available from distribution points around the country.

So, there is a lot that has been achieved in recent times. It is now for us to ensure that the broadest spectrum of individual visual artists and arts organisations can benefit from them. There is still much work to be done, and we will continue these areas of our advocacy work as usual…  sometimes quietly in the background, but always to the benefit of visual artists and arts organisations across the country. We hope to have an interview with the programme director of Creative Ireland, John Concannon, in a future edition of The Visual Artists News Sheet so that we can learn more about the programme and how it will be delivered.

Recent events show recent achievements



Applications are invited for the 2016 Visual Artists Ireland Suki Tea Art Prize.

The prize is open to all professional artists resident in Northern Ireland and all Visual Artists Ireland members in the Republic of Ireland working in all visual art forms at all career stages.

In its second year the Prize is directed at visual artists at all career stages. This year will provide a two month research based residency in The Irish Cultural Centre in Paris. The prize covers accommodation, one return flight, and a stipend of €700 per month. The prize offers great opportunities for visual artists to tap into the resources of the CCI and the City of Light, as well as being an important means of showcasing Ireland’s dynamic contemporary culture on an international stage.

How to apply

Please submit an on-line application form via the CCI website until Wednesday 11 January 2017, 5pm GMT. Applications by post or e-mail cannot be accepted. Application form

A clear indication of the focus of the residency will be required together with a record of professional achievement: details of publications, exhibitions, performances, compositions, prizes, awards and related aspects of practice, as well as experience of other residencies. Visual artists must have had at least one solo exhibition and writers one published work.

Please clearly state VISUAL ARTISTS IRELAND SUKI TEA ART PRIZE in your statement so that it can be considered. Republic of Ireland applicants must also include their up to date VAI membership number. Failure to do so will mean that you will not be considered for the prize.

Assessment Panel

The Assessment Panel will comprise of representatives from The Irish Cultural Centre, Visual Artists Ireland, and an independent visual arts representative.

Terms and Conditions

  1. You must be a professional artist either resident in Northern Ireland or a member of Visual Artists Ireland in the Republic of Ireland to enter.
  2. The residency is open to practitioners in all visual art forms, within the limits of the facilities available in the Centre.
  3. The bursary covers travel and accommodation in the Centre Culturel Irlandais. The artist is expected to spend the period agreed in the Centre.
  4. Each resident artist will receive a stipend of €700 per month.
  5. The artist in residence will be asked to participate in the cultural programme of the Centre Culturel Irlandais.

Our Sponsor:

Northern Ireland based Suki Tea specialise in artisan loose leaf teas. First set up in 2005 by business partners Annie and Oscar who were inspired by their travels in Asia where they had the opportunity to taste many different types of really (really) good ethically-sourced teas, which they wanted to share with everyone. They have since made ethical sourcing their priority whilst delivering the finest loose leaf teas, herbal infusions and fruit blends to their customers. Winners of over 37 Great Taste Awards and multiple industry awards Suki Tea truly is ‘Tea as it should be’.

Our Project Partners:



Applications are invited for the 2016 Visual Artists Ireland Suki ...


The deadline for applications is 5:30pm Thursday 13 October 2016

This scheme is funded by The Arts Council and administered by Visual Artists Ireland.

Applications for this scheme will open on Thursday, 18th August 2016. Only applications made through the online system will be considered.

You may access the form  at

Visual Artists Ireland, on behalf of the Arts Council, invites applications for grants of up to a maximum of €40,000 towards the running costs of visual artists’ workspaces. In keeping with the Council’s policy document Visual Artists’ Workspaces in Ireland – A New Approach, this scheme has the aim of assisting artists workspaces throughout the country to provide the best possible environment for working visual artists and, where feasible, to enable a level of subsidy for resident visual artists.

The scheme will award grants of up to €40,000 towards running costs such as light, heat, rent, administration and/or appropriate management costs. (Capital costs cannot be applied for through this scheme).

Guidelines and Online Application Form: Workspace Scheme Document 2017 Final.

Deadline Reminder | Arts Council Visual Artists Workspace Scheme 2017