The Arts Union is building a democratically controlled membership organization seeking to leverage solidarity into real power to organize workers within the global art industry. The Arts Union is currently run by an Organizing Committee which is a rotating group of volunteers. We are here for artists and arts workers and those with no union power or managerial power.
If you are an artist or arts worker experiencing problems in your workplace, please contact the AU to talk about support we may be able to provide. We have worked with artists and arts workers to engage institutions on issues of workplace protections, including race and gender-based discrimination, and workers rights. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to the AU’s Organizing Committee in confidence about your experiences. We will not disclose any names or identifying information.
The Arts Union was founded in January 2021 following a year of organizing, research, outreach, and development. Subsequently, we have organized actions, letters and reports on working conditions within museums in the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art, New Orleans Museum of Art and the Queens Museum. We continue to meet and organize with groups both nationally and globally with our community, such as FWD Truth, #DismantleNOMA, Artists for a PostMoMA Future, Red Bloom, Art Handlers Alliance, Coop Fund, Freelance Solidarity Project, Artist and Arts Workers Happy Hour, Art Workers Italia, bbk berlin (Professional Association of Visual Artists Berlin), Cultural Workers Alliance Greece, The Association of Norwegian Visual Artists (NBK), and Young Artists Society (UKS).
We consider this organization and continuation of historic initiatives such as the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition of 1969, the Arts Workers Coalition, and the Artists Union of the 1930s, as well as more recent efforts such as the Arts and Labor group associated with Occupy Wall Street, W.A.G.E., and all of the unionization drives happening across the industry. The Arts Union is committed to working against settler colonialism, anti-blackness, white supremacy, and all intersected forms of oppression—in and outside of the arts industry.
We are forming a non-traditional union based in the United States as many artists and arts workers do not have the employee status required for a traditional union covered under federal law. We are here to cover gaps in the arts industry where there are no clear protections.
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