Category: VAI News

SAVE THE DATE: VAI Get Together 2017 | Friday 15 September

We are delighted to announce that this years Get Together – our national day of coming together with talks, clinics, presentations, information sharing and networking will take place on Friday, 15 September 2017 in The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.

Featuring all of your favourites – Speed Curating, Portfolio Reviews, One on One Clinics, Help Desks, Artists Speaking and the Visual Artists Café.

View highlights of last years event:

Full details of the event to be announced soon.

Visual Artists Ireland Welcomes New Visual Artists and Writers Social Welfare Recognition   Recently updated !

Visual Artists Ireland has 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

Mark McGreevy Wins Suki Tea Art Prize 2017

Visual Artists Ireland, Suki Tea and Business NI Investment Programme are delighted to announce Mark McGreevy as the winner of this years Suki Tea Art Prize.

As winner of the Suki Tea Art Prize Mark will have a two month, fully-funded, artist residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, including flights, accommodation, studio space, a monthly stipend, and superb networking opportunities. The prize is worth over £4,000 and aims to provide artists with an opportunity to respond to a new environment and develop new work.

Mark McGreevy studied at the University of Ulster, Belfast (BA Hons Fine and Applied Art 1994-1999 and Masters in Fine Art 2001-2003).

To date he has exhibited in numerous exhibitions both in Ireland and Internationally notably ‘Between two Worlds’, F.E. McWilliams, 2013. ‘The Fold- A Painting Show’, VISUAL, Carlow, 2011. Solo exhibitions, The Third Space Gallery, Belfast 2010/06. ‘Resolutions’, Katzen Arts Centre, Washington DC in 2007, ‘There Not There’ in the Crawford Art Gallery, Cork, 2008 and ‘A Gap in the Bright’, the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown in 2008. He has received Bursary Awards from The Arts Council of Ireland in 2012 and 2009, was short-listed for The AIB Award, 2004 and the BOC emerging artist award, UK, 2004. Residencies include Temple Bar Gallery+Studios, Dublin, 2007-2010, Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s New York research residency, 2008 and Artist Residency Programme in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin in 2005.

Courtesy of Suki Tea, and facilitated by the Arts and Business NI Investment Programme, Visual Artists Ireland initiated the prize in 2015. 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.

Positive step for professional artists and writers as Ministers Humphreys and Varadkar launch pilot scheme to make it easier to access social welfare supports

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

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

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.

Profile Your Public Art in the Visual Artists’ News Sheet June/July Issue

Deadline: 9 June

If you have recently been involved in a public commission, percent for art project, socially engaged project or any other form of ‘art outside the gallery’ we would like you to email us the information for publication in the the next issue of the Visual Artists News Sheet.
Send images (3-4MB in size) and a short text (no more than around 300 words) in the following format:

* Artist’s name
* Title of work
* Commissioning body
* Date advertised
* Date sited / carried out
* Budget
* Commission type
* Project Partners
* Brief description of the work

Work must have been undertaken in the last 6 months.

Send your info to Production Editor Lily Power at:

VAI Members Day Out in Belfast – Meet Belfast Galleries and Join Us for a party to announce the 2017 Suki Tea Art Prize Winner

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

Out Now | May – June 2017 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.

From late-February to mid-April, a series of public meetings were held across the country as part of the Creative Ireland programme, a five-year government initiative which seeks to place creativity at the centre of public policy. Joanne Laws’s VAI News column outlines what transpired at the Roscommon and Leitrim meetings. In other columns, Pádraic E. Moore describes a revived interest in 1970s industrial music, probing the crossovers with performance art. Our Northern Ireland column comes from artist and researcher Laura O’Connor, who discusses the WANDA Feminism and Moving Image event which took place in Belfast in February 2017. Martin Waldmeier’s column tackles ‘The Problem of Jargon’ within the art world and introduces Plain English Criticism, a concept explored by Art and Disability Ireland, who invited Michelle Browne to write a review for the Critique section using this pared-back approach to language.

Also in this issue, Joanne Laws interviews John Hutchinson about his 25-year directorship of the Douglas Hyde Gallery, while Manuela Pacella interviews Irish curator Kate Strain about her recent appointment as Artistic Director of the Grazer Kunstverein in Graz, Austria. Sue Rainsford, winner of VAI/DCC Arts Office Critical Writing Award, presents her review of Vanessa Donoso Lòpez’s exhibition ‘to swallow a ball’, which was presented at The LAB, Dublin from September to November 2016. Susan MacWilliam reflects on her survey exhibition ‘Modern Experiments’. This issue includes several organisation profiles: Daniel Bermingham outlines the evolution, methodologies and future trajectories of Basic Space, Dublin; Gavin Murphy reflects on last year’s 20-year anniversary programme of Pallas Projects/Studios; and Paul Tarpey offers insights into the working methods of Parallel Editions, an independent fine art printmakers based in Limerick.

Sherry Erskine Wins VAI Student Membership Prize for The Burren Collage of Art

The Dean and faculty committee of The Burren Collage of Art, Co. Clare have chosen recent MFA graduate, Sherry Erskine, as the recipient of this years Visual Artists Ireland Student Membership Prize.

This is the first of the VAI Student Membership Prizes to be awarded for 2017. VAI invited several Art Colleges in Ireland to select one graduating student from their college to receive a Membership Prize.

The Prize will give the graduating student one years free membership of VAI which will be of great benefit to the student in their first year establishing an independent practice. Adjusting to working without the support of college and peer guidance can be challenging for a recent graduate. The resources available to through VAI can make this transition smoother for graduates and the Membership Prize entitles them to full professional membership benefits, which include:

  • VAI Help-Desk: advice service for visual artists that covers the wide range of professional concerns being experienced by artists today.
    Professional Development Workshops: a wide range of professional development training throughout the year including workshops, peer discussion groups, seminars and talks.
  • VAN: receive the Visual Artists’ News Sheet by post (6 issues per year). The VAN is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.
  • Equipment Hire: affordable access to projectors, video editing, cameras, computers and other equipment.
  • Get Together: Irelands national day for visual artists with speed curating, clinics and talks.
  • Members Directory: your  personal profile, image and contact details in the Members Directory on the VAI website
  • The Manual: a comprehensive on-line information resource covering all aspects of professional development.
  • Membership Card: entitles you to discounts at a wide range of art material suppliers and service providers
  • Studio Exchange Programme: VAI members can register with Artelier for studio exchange with peers anywhere in the world.

For more information on membership benefits and to join for the annual rate of €50/€25 (concession/unwaged) visit:

Important News about Artists Resale Right

It has come to our attention that a collecting society from outside of Ireland has been attempting to claim secondary sales money on behalf of Irish visual artists and their estates. If you are in the Republic of Ireland then IVARO (Irish Visual Artists Rights Organisation) is the local collective licensing body established by and for Irish visual artists that you should be registered with. IVARO collects Artists Resale money from the third party sellers such as auction houses and distributes it to artists or to their heirs.

There is no other collective licensing organisation in Ireland currently registered to do so for visual artists. IVARO also collects on behalf of foreign artists who are registered with their country’s collecting society.

For example, in the UK IVARO has a reciprocal agreement with DACS. This means that if a DACS member has work sold in Ireland, the money is collected by IVARO and sent to DACS for distribution.

In the same way, if an Irish artist is sold abroad, the sister agency collects the money, sends it to IVARO who then distributes it. So, again using our sister agency DACS as an example, they have a list of Irish artists registered with IVARO, collect the money, and send it to IVARO to be distributed to Irish artists or their heirs and estates.

We have claims of all sorts of promises being made to artists and artists’ heirs & estates who are being requested to register with organisations who are not registered to collect in Ireland. If you have been approached and even if you are given to understand that the organisation is reputable, we suggest that you contact the IVARO helpline either on or (01) 672 9488 where you can get advice on what you are being told. They have a free impartial service so there will be no pressure to sign up. You will be given the full facts so that you can make your own decision.

Sue Rainsford Announced as Recipient of Critical Writing Award 2016/17

Visual Artists Ireland, in partnership with Dublin City Council’s The LAB Gallery and AICA Ireland, are pleased to announce Sue Rainsford as the winner of the 2016 Critical Writing Award. Rainsford is the fourth recipient of the award, following James Merrigan, Rebecca O’Dwyer and Joanne Laws. The panel of judges this year comprised J.J. Charlesworth (AICA UK, Associate Editor, Art Review), Sheena Barrett (Assistant Arts Officer, Dublin City Council and Curator, The LAB) and Noel Kelly (President, AICA Ireland, Director, Visual Artists Ireland).

Rainsford’s winning piece of writing – a review of Vanessa Donoso López’s exhibition ‘to swallow a ball’ – will be published in the May/June issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet. She will also receive a fee of €500 and join the Visual Artists’ News Sheet panel of art critics. In addition, Rainsford will be invited to contribute to The LAB Gallery’s 2017 programme, with a €300 writing commission.

Sue Rainsford is a writer and researcher based in Dublin. A graduate of Trinity College and IADT, she recently completed her MFA in Writing and Literature at Bennington College, Vermont. Her practice is concerned with hybrid texts and radical experience, as well as the intersection between visual and literary arts practices.

Visual Artists News Sheet Online:

Setting Your Own Agenda with Patricia Clyne-Kelly at VAI Belfast Office

Wednesday 3 May, 9am to 5pm

Tickets £10 / £5
(Includes lunch and refreshments)

Setting Your Own Agenda – shift your mindset, find your focus and sharpen your creative mind.

An exploration of best practices for making ideas happen. Pragmatic action-oriented insights and skills are shared to empower you to make good the ideas you have in waiting…when it comes to creative work, every decision, everyday matters.

Guest Speakers:

Joanna Kidney was born in Dublin, Ireland and currently lives in Co. Wicklow, Ireland. Her work utilizes the medium of drawing, the potential of diverse materials and a sense of experience to reflect on the human experience and our relationship with the vast universe. It is influenced by an interest in interconnectivity between living matter and metaphysics.

Out Now | March – April 2017 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

The Visual Artists’ News Sheet is the primary all-Ireland information resource for visual artists presenting case study articles on all aspects of the lives of professional artists, alongside features offering critical reflection and analysis of relevant aspects of the art world in Ireland and internationally.

In January 2017, we learned of the sad passing of the influential British writer and cultural theorist Mark Fisher, who was a columnist for VAN for many years. Declan Long’s poignant tribute features alongside a reprint of Mark’s column ‘The Game Has Changed’, which was first published in the January/February 2011 issue.

In other columns for this issue, Arno Kramer outlines the growing momentum of contemporary drawing in Paris and the Netherlands, while VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilton discusses prominent painting exhibitions across Northern Ireland. An Organisation Profile of MART, Dublin, by Bernard O’Rourke, offers insights into the evolution of the artist-led space 10 years after it was established. Declan Sheehan discusses Future Artist-Makers, a project showcasing the work of Derry’s FabLab, housed at the Nerve Centre.

This issue features reports from seminars that recently took place around the country: Lisa Fingleton covers ‘Sites of Tension – Sites of Collaboration’ in Portlaoise; Linda Shevlin reports on the Arts Council’s ‘Place Matters’ conference at Dublin Castle in January; while Joanne Laws outlines the ‘Radical Actions’ seminar that took place in December 2016 in county Roscommon. A number of artist residencies are profiled in this issue: Tinka Bechert looks back at her participation in Leitrim County Council’s SPARK residency; internationally, Sam Keogh reflects on his ongoing residency at Rijksakademie in Amsterdam; while Jim Ricks discusses his residency and exhibition at Casa Maauad, Mexico City.

In the Career Development section, Roger Hudson reflects on his artistic career and discusses his artist book Taking the Scissors to Society. Aideen Doran outlines the trajectories of her ongoing practice to coincide with the premiere of her new film at the Flatpack Film Festival in Birmingham this spring. Trish Brennan interviews Ailbhe Ní Bhriain about recurring themes in her recent work, while Sami Giarratani discusses the Truth Booth’s tour of America in the run up to the presidential election.

The Regional Profile for this issue comes from Antrim and Newtownabbey, outlining recent activities of the Arts Office’s Flax and Oriel galleries, as well as Jordanstown Art Club. Artists Andrea Spencer and Alan Milligan discuss the pros and cons of maintaining an arts practice in the region. Reviewed in the Critique section are: ‘Gut Instinct’ at Lewis Glucksman Gallery, Cork; Locky Morris at Naughton Gallery, Belfast; ‘Guest 2’ at Arts and Disability Forum, Belfast; Mark Garry at Luan Gallery, Athlone; and Phillip
Allen at Kerlin Gallery, Dublin.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Members of VAI receive a copy of the VAN delivered straight to their door. The News Sheet is also available to pick up free of charge in galleries and arts centres. The Visual Artists’ News Sheet Online offers our readers a platform to discuss a number of the articles and the topics contained in the print edition.

Website Survey:

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.


Noel Kelly among four new members appointed to the Board of Culture Action Europe

Culture Action Europe are delighted to welcome new members of the Culture Action Europe Executive Committee. Corinne Szteinsznaider, Noel Kelly (CEO, Visual Artists Ireland), Lars Ebert and Yamam Al Zubaidi were elected at the CAE Annual General Meeting on 25 January in Budapest. ExComm mandates last for three years, renewable for a second term.

Culture Action Europe (CAE) is an advocacy and lobby organisation promoting arts and culture as a building block of the European project. The aim is to influence European policies for more and better access to culture across the continent and beyond. CAE provides customized information and analysis on the European Union, offers cultural actors a space to exchange and elaborates common positions, and develops advocacy actions towards European policymakers.
CAE is a Europe-wide network of membership organisations, with a Secretariat based in Brussels. An Executive Committee is elected from among the membership organisations who meet four times a year. The membership organisations meet during the annual General Assembly.

CAE has currently over 90 members, representing more than 10,000 organisations in more than 14 artistic disciplines. The members are from all domains – orchestras to writers associations, research institutions to cultural contact points, national theatres to international cultural networks, independent cultural operators to conservatoires, visual arts organisations to voluntary arts organisations. CAE brings them together in the belief that cultural cooperation matters in Europe.

Visual Artists Cafe: Artists’ Media Toolkit, Derry

Thursday 2 March
12pm to 4.30pm

VAI/DAS Members – Free
Non-Members – £5

In this practical workshop, Sharon Adams will be looking at what information you have available online about you and your work, that can be used by curators and galleries for research or exhibitions. We will help you be in control of the message that you are making public, and give you practical advice to help your relationship with galleries and curators as smooth as possible.

In our second session, photographer and videographer, Simon Mills, will be looking specifically at promo videos. They are one of the best ways to help get your work out there, they are easily shared, and can make a big impression when done right. We will offer tips for making high quality videos on a tight budget and look at some of the uses these videos have.

For more information and to book visit:

Void, Patrick Street, Derry, BT48 7EL Northern Ireland
T: +44(0)28 7130 8080

Profile Your Public Art in the Visual Artists’ News Sheet March/April Issue

If you have recently been involved in a public commission, percent for art project, socially engaged project or any other form of ‘art outside the gallery’ we would like you to email us the information for publication in the the next issue of the Visual Artists News Sheet.
Send images (3-4MB in size) and a short text (no more than around 300 words) in the following format:

* Artist’s name
* Title of work
* Commissioning body
* Date advertised
* Date sited / carried out
* Budget
* Commission type
* Project Partners
* Brief description of the work

Work must have been undertaken in the last 6 months. Deadline: 9 February.

Send your info to Production Editor Lily Power at:

Out Now | January – February 2017 Issue of the Visual Artists’ News Sheet

Writer and researcher Joanne Laws is the guest editor of the Jan/Feb issue of the VAN, out now.

Several interviews are included in this issue: Joanne Laws spoke to Alistair Hudson about the Arte Útil movement; Conor McFeely interviewed Andres Serrano during his recent exhibition ‘Torture’ at Void, Derry; while Rayne Booth spoke to Benjamin De Búrca and Bárbara Wagner at the 32nd São Paulo Biennial.

In the Irish context, Gianna Tasha Tomasso reviews TULCA Festival of Visual Art and Kevin Gaffney outlines the making of his new film work, supported by Sky Arts Academy, which is currently showing at Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown. Internationally, Pádraic E. Moore discusses his event ‘Ectoplasm’ at 1646, The Hague, and Áine Phillips reviews the Guerrilla Girls exhibition at Whitechapel,
London, which surveys levels of inequality across European art institutions.

On the subject of art writing , publishing and readerships, Marysia Wiezkiewicz-Carroll reports on the ‘Art and Writing’ programme organised by Paper Visual Art and Gorse journals. In a similar vein, Nathan O’Donnell offers insights into the panel discussion ‘Art, Writing, Narrative and its Territories’, which coincided with Katrina Palmer’s solo exhibition ‘The Three Stories are Flattened’ at Void, Derry.

A number of Irish residencies also feature: Suzanne Walsh reports on the ‘Resort Revelations’ residency programme in Portrane, Colin Martin provides an overview of the ongoing Tony O’Malley Residency for painters and Jessica Foley reflects on her participation in ‘The Centre for Dying on Stage #3’, an intensive six-week residency at Cow House Studios, County Wexford.

VAI Northern Ireland Manager Rob Hilken discusses the Belfast Open Studios event, while VAI Director Noel Kelly describes how the uncertainties of Brexit are already impacting on VAI and other cultural organisations across Ireland. The Regional Roundup for this issue comes from County Leitrim, outlining recent activities of The Dock, Leitrim Sculpture Centre, Creative Frame, Leitrim Arts Office, StArt Studios and artist Daniel Chester. Reviewed in the Critique section are: Mary Patterson at Ballina Arts Centre; Benedict Drew and Miguel Martin at CCA Derry-Londonderry; Fiona Lowe Brunell at ArtisAnn Gallery, Belfast; Rayleen Clancy at Signal Arts Centre, Bray; and the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2016 at the National Gallery of Ireland.

As ever, we have details of upcoming VAI Professional Development Programme, exhibition and public art roundups, news from the sector and current opportunities.

Sign the Petition | Reduce the threshold for Artists Resale Right in Ireland

Many people profit when an artwork is resold. The full value of an artwork often isn’t seen on the first sale. It is common for visual art to increase in value over time, as the reputation of the artist grows. For this reason the EU introduced a directive that countries must introduce a system whereby Artists and their Heirs & Estates can benefit from third part sales by a professional party or intermediary, such as salesrooms, art galleries and, in general, any dealers in works of art.

In Ireland the threshold before the Resale Right becomes relevant is 3000 Euro.

By comparison, the UK is 1000 Euro (in line with EU so implemented in Euro). By reducing the threshold in Ireland to 1000 Euro, a greater number of artists will benefit from this scheme with a clear direct effect of reducing the number of artists dependent on social welfare.

In addition, Irish artists are experiencing serious and ongoing difficulties in collecting the royalties to which they are entitled. The Directive which introduced the right across the European Union in 2006 was transposed into Irish law via a statutory instrument rather than legislation. The weak regulations have resulted in a low level of compliance from the art market profession, in particular from galleries and art dealers, many of whom have largely ignored or avoided the right. The regulations do not provide an effective mechanism for the collection of royalties due to artists and their heirs. This has led to a continuing and unacceptable loss of income to artists. To remedy the government must introduce compulsory collective management as a means of collecting, administering and distributing the artists’ resale right.

This petition asks that as a matter of urgency:

  • The Artists Resale Right threshold is reduced to 1000 Euro;


  • The introduction of compulsory collective management as a means of collecting, administering and distributing the artists’ resale right.

Visual Artists Ireland and IVARO work on a consistent basis for the implementation of these changes.

Please sign now and ask your friends and colleagues to join us in this important work: sign here 

Recent events show recent achievements

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.