In parallel to its function as exhibiting institution, UKS (Unge Kunstneres Samfund / Young Artists’ Society) is a Norwegian, political membership organization (to apply for membership, click here).
Since its foundation in 1921, UKS, led by its board, has worked on behalf of its members’ professional, social, economic, and ideal interests, aiming at influencing relevant political decision-making.
A guiding principle behind this work is to continously articulate how art and artistic practice—in its manifold utterances—form a foundational pillar of a democratic society.
UKS’ union work centers on subject matters of national importance in Norway, working to the benefit of our members across the country. Through varying means of communication with politicians, UKS seeks to increase knowledge about artists’ everyday operating conditions and proffer concrete actions that can be taken to meet artists’ needs and better their work/life situations.
To ensure the possibility for artists to practice their profession and audiences to encounter artistic work regardless of social and economic background, society must provide both an infrastructure and a support system, facilitating and enhancing the knowledge built within the arts, while policymakers need to be made aware of the working conditions of professional artists.
UKS, thus, focuses on informing politicians and authorities on the contemporary context for artistic creation as well as being present, active, and adamant in public discussions about cultural politics. UKS aims at being a front-runner in the work to better conditions for artists in Norway.
Recent direct results of these ventures include the establishment within the Arts Council of Norway of an independent pool of funding for artist-run spaces “Arrangørstøtteordningen,” and similarly the establishment of the bi-annually announced artist-assistance grant “Kunstnerassistentordningen”—both initiated by UKS.
Historic projects where UKS has been the driving force include:
- The establishment of Norske Billedkunstnere (NBK) in 1975
- Initiating Kunstneraksjonen (an artist happening) in 1974
- The initiation of the first artist survey (a condition report on artists’ social situations in Norway, exhibited at UKS in 1970)
- Development of the artists’ houses at Trolltun (Bøler in Oslo in 1959)
… and many other projects. For recent initiatives, scroll down to Projects.
UKS’ political work is led by its Chair, who works with representatives from the board and UKS staff. The UKS Chair is elected by UKS members at the annual General Assembly as are the board members, each being elected for a two-year term. According to its current bylaws, UKS has seven board members.
UKS also operates as an important voice within the umbrella organization of the collected artists’ associations in Norway, Norske Billedkunstnere (NBK). UKS is the largest organization under NBK and the UKS board’s work within this bigger remit has recently resulted in the reduction in the membership fee for new members of NBK and a revision and critical discussion of how the core committees responsible for handing out artist work-stipends (“Stipendkomite”) are elected.
To optimize the voice of the union through the bigger organizational muscle, NBK, a membership with UKS today is mandatorily tied to a NBK membership. For more information on how to become a member, jump to our membership page here.
Over the lasts years UKS has contributed to initiatives set on making the infrastructure for artists better in the largest cities of Norway. This work is grounded in the Atelierundersøkelsen, a 2014 studio survey conducted by Telemarksforskning on behalf of UKS, along with several publications and projects such as:
- Boms eller Protagonist (two seminars at UKS, held in 2016)
- The collaboration/work group Kreativt Naboskap (dating 2014–2017, between 0047, Forbundet Frie Fotografer, and Fotogalleriet)
- The publication Mulighetsrom – kunstnernes plass i fremtidens by (published in 2017, and sold at UKS and Tronsmo)
- The book Å leve av kunsten: Om kunstnernes arbeidsvilkår og myten om den frie frilanser (published in 2017 by Forlaget Manifest).
In 2017 UKS started a new project for artists’ housing in co-operation with the architecture firm Fragment and with support from the City of Oslo’s Agency for Planning and Building and its Agency of Culture (Kulturetaten). The project, UKS Kunstnerbolig, envisions a model for affordable artists’ housing that can be realized in the development area, Hovinbyen, in Oslo. A draft project which in turn can be scaled and adapted to inspire the creation of artists’ housing in other regions of Norway. In August 2018, we opened an exhibition presenting the results of this project—called UKS Kunstnerbolig—at UKS in St. Olavs gate, Oslo.
Read more about other recent political UKS initiatives by clicking here.