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What has Europe ever done for me and what can it do for me in the future?

An informal discussion with Culture Action Europe in Dublin

Thursday, 25th January 12:30pm – 2pm

The EU can sometimes feel like a distant place that we read about in the newspapers or wonder about in the context of agricultural and fisheries policies.  But, it is in fact impacting on our daily lives within the cultural sector. Visual Artists Ireland has been active within the Culture Action Europe network for several years and we are now delighted to welcome Rosa Pérez Monclús, Senior Policy Officer, and Natalie Giorgadze, Communications & Community Director, from Culture Action Europe to a discussion event that will allow for a greater understanding of some of the current directions, discussions, and consultations being undertaken in the EU with regards the Cultural sector.

Places are limited so we recommend booking now… Both Rosa and Natalie have indicated how they look forward to a fruitful discussion that will assist them as they represent the cultural sector in all of its forms to the legislators and policy makers of the EU.

This is a Free Event and the first event in VAI’s 2018 Advocacy Programme. The event is also open to non-visual arts cultural forms, including Heritage.


Culture Action Europe (CAE) is a European network of cultural organisations and individuals dedicated to promote culture as a necessary condition for sustainable development both at local and European scale.

As the major cultural network in Europe, we are the political voice of over 80 thousand cultural players, practitioners and activists across the continent.

Representing voices from very diverse artistic and cultural domains, we aim at promoting exchange between these stakeholders, leading to the development of grass-roots engagement, advocating the needs of the cultural sector, and developing a mutually beneficial dialogue between the European cultural and political field in order to encourage the democratic development of the European Union.

CAE believes that culture is a pillar for sustainable societies, its enjoyment is a fundamental human right, and a fully democratic European Union is essentially a cultural project.



Discussion Event: Culture Action Europe in Dublin

Art Prize 2018

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 third 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 10 January 2018, 5pm GMT for residencies between August 2018 and July 2019. 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 ensure that you tick the box for the Suki Tea Art Prize in the application form 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 a representative from Suki Tea.

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: Centre Culturel Irlandais and Arts & Business Northern Ireland

Applications are invited for the 2018 Visual Artists Ireland Suki ...

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.

Contact Details

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

Just a friendly reminder that the Deadline for this scheme is: 5:30pm Thursday 12th October 2017

Some have already completed their applications.  If you wish to apply or to complete your application, we encourage you to do so sooner rather than later.  The system will close out automatically, therefore if your application has not been completed, is not fully uploaded, or hasn’t the final submit option selected it will be considered invalid.

Details about the scheme and guidelines to making an application are available at

Reminder: Visual Artists Work Space Scheme 2018 Deadline

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: