A new union supports struggling artists in times of austerity

The struggles many artists face during times of austerity is the focus of the latest edition of CAMEo Cuts – a paper series published by the CAMEo Research Institute, University of Leicester.

CAMEo Cuts is an occasional paper series that showcases reflections on cultural and media economies, written by CAMEo researchers, partners, policy-makers and cultural and media practitioners.

The latest edition is written by Angela Jane Kennedy, a founding member of Artists’ Union England (AUE) – a new trade union for artists. 

Artists earn – on average – 66% of the living wage for work often undertaken in studios that pose health and safety hazards. Although artists create, design and make the functional objects of our lives, from kettles to phones, games and furniture, many can hardly make a living themselves.

Angela’s CAMEo Cuts describes how the AUE was born to fight for better pay and employment, safer work spaces, more ethical arts funding and basic human rights in work, such as the absence of racism, sexism, homophobia or disability discrimination.  

Angela writes: “Art organisations need to proactively play their part to treat artists with more respect and take responsibility for the opportunities that they post and make sure work advertised is fair, clear and transparent and has the rate expected for the job – the trade union national rates agreed by its members.”

CAMEo Director Professor Mark Banks says: “The AUE campaigns for much-needed change in the precarious conditions behind the beautiful art we all enjoy. CAMEo Cuts 8 shows how a new union can fight for artists to be appreciated rather than exploited.” 

The CAMEo Research Institute for Cultural and Media Economies at the University of Leicester is an interdisciplinary platform for culture and media academics, practitioners and policy-makers. CAMEo provides new understandings of the cultural industries, the ‘creative economy’, arts, media and cultural policy, consumer culture dynamics, and the mediation and representation of cultural and economic life. 

CAMEo’s work foregrounds issues of participation, sustainability and social justice in cultural and media economies.