Visual Artists Ireland
Art Organization Representing Irish Painters, Sculptors, Ceramicists & Other Contemporary Creative Practitioners

Visual Artists Ireland

Established in 1980, Visual Artists Ireland (formerly the Sculptors’ Society of Ireland) is an organization for professional visual artists from Leinster, Munster, Connacht and Ulster. This all-Ireland body is funded by the Arts Council of the Republic and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and claims a membership of more than 1,200 painters, sculptors and other Irish artists, to whom it offers a diverse range of resources and facilities, and for whom it acts as a dedicated voice and lobby group, it is now has the largest membership of any artist group in Ireland.


Originally known as the Sculptors' Society of Ireland - a body established more than 25 years ago to raise the professional standing of sculptors and promote Irish sculpture as an appreciated visual art form in Ireland, as well as being a noteworthy advocate of the Percent For Art Funding scheme - the organization changed its name to Visual Artists Ireland in 2005. This led to a rapid increase in membership, and it now accomodates all creators of visual art, including those working in Irish painting, photography, ceramics, tapestry, stained glass, precious metals, plus modern art forms like assemblage, collage, installation, conceptual, performance, land and video art, as well as sculpture.

Board Management

Visual Artists Ireland (Ealaíontóirí Radharcacha Éire) is an artist-based organisation. In general its governing board of directors is composed of artists who have the relevant professional criteria, although other non-artist individuals with specific expertise may be added to the board. The latter typically contains up to eight full-time artists and up to five non-artist experts. At present, it comprises: Liam Sharkey (Chair), Therry Rudin (Vice Chair), Roger Bennett, Paula Duffy, Tim Lloyd, Brian Fay, Susan MacWilliam, Kevin O’Dwyer and Mel Reynolds.

Resources For Members

Visual Artists Ireland offers members a variety of facilities, services and resources to support visual artists working in all media. It communicates these resource options - including details of new commission schemes, art grants/bursaries and other commercial possibilities in the Irish art industry - through its free twice weekly email newsletter which is full of news and opportunities for artists.


Visual Artists Ireland organizes a range of training courses and workshops for members, including a variety of workshops.

Lobby Group

Visual Artists Ireland is a dedicated voice representing the interests of individual artists, and visual art in general. Its lobbyist program focuses on the larger issues affecting the livelihood and status of Irish-based artists - including EU arts and culture policy - although it also handles individual requests for intervention (eg) in relation to disputes over art contracts and commission terms.

Public Art Commissions

As part of its help desk support, Visual Artists Ireland offers advice to organisations who are preparing to advertise a commission. An advisory document has been published with a series of checks that a tender can use to assess the 'health' of their call for proposals. In parallel, VAI also provide specific training for artists who want to work on public commissions, including workshops on: The preparations and design stage, the delivery and working with architects.

Artists Tax Exemption

Since the Artists Tax Exemption Scheme was reviewed in 2004, there have been a lot of calls for its abolition. Visual Artists Ireland believes the scheme should stay in full and is a strong advocate of this point.

Artist Resale Rights

The Artists Resale Right (ARR) has been in operation in Ireland for more than 2 years. The regulations introduced in 2006 entitle living artists to receive a royalty each time their work is resold by an auction house, gallery or art dealer. Ireland is one of just a few EU Member States that do not currently provide a Resale Right after death. However from 1 January 2010 all Member States are required to apply the Right to works authored by deceased artists and which are protected by copyright. However, Member States are allowed to delay this implementation for two years if more time is required for the market to adjust. Visual Artists Ireland is campaigning to ensure that this happens as soon as possible.

More Information

This is merely a brief overview of some of the opportunities offered by Visual Artists Ireland. For the complete story, and details of how to apply for membership, contact:

Visual Artists Ireland
37 North Great George's Street,
Dublin 1
Phone: 01-872-2296

• For facts about artists in Ireland, see: Homepage.
• For the historical development of painting and sculpture, see: History of Irish Art.
• For a selected list of modern creative practitioners, see: Contemporary Irish Artists.
• For a personal view of the top creative practitioners, see: Best Irish Artists.

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