UKS (Unge Kunstneres Samfund / Young Artists’ Society) is a political membership organization for professional artists in Norway and an exhibition space for contemporary art located in Oslo. With close to 700 members, UKS is the largest organization within the national artist union Norske Billedkunstnere (NBK). Founded by artists, for artists in 1921, UKS works to advance its members’ professional, social, economic, and ideal interests.
UKS works on behalf of our members—the artists—with political influence and union work. (To apply for membership, click here).
A guiding principle behind our political work is that art and artists’ freedom of speech are essential parts of a democratic society.
See more below, under Projects.
As an artist union UKS works on political issues concerning cultural policy in Norway in order to advance the interests of our members across the country. Through contact with politicians and government officials, UKS seeks to increase knowledge about the living and working conditions for artists and to proffer concrete actions to meet artists’ needs and better their situations. It is a political responsibility to ensure equal access to the experience of art and to the profession of artist regardless of social and economic background. Cultural policy has to be based on the needs and demands of professional artists, with the aim that everyone should be able to freely practice art and to ensure universal access to the experience of art.
Our society needs a solid infrastructure and an ambitious support system to facilitate specialization, experimentation, innovation, and long-term professional development. UKS provides knowledge and context for politicians and authorities by being present, active, and adamant in public debates on cultural policy. Throughout its history UKS has been a forceful proponent for the betterment of the conditions for art and artists in Norway.
UKS has played a part in these historical projects:
- The establishment of Norske Billedkunstnere (NBK) in 1975
- The initiation of Kunstneraksjonen 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 the Chair of the organization, in collaboration with members of the Board and UKS staff. The Chair and members of the Board are elected for two-year periods by the General Assembly, which is held annually in March. According to its current bylaws, UKS has seven board members.
UKS’ bylaws, statement of principles, strategic plan, and action plan together form all the organization’s activities. All members can take part in revising and updating these core documents at UKS’ General Assembly (All documents in Norwegian):
- Statement of principles
- Strategic plan 2017-2021
- Action plan 2020
- Annual Report 2017
- Annual Report 2018
- Annual Report 2019
UKS’ Board holds five regular meetings each year. The minutes from these meetings are available for all members. The annual meeting plan of the Board suggests meetings be held in May/June, September, November/December, January and in March before the General Assembly. Please contact us if you want access to the minutes from a Board meeting: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the largest organization within the Norwegian artist union, Norske Billedkunstnere (NBK), UKS is an important voice in the bigger remit of artist associations. A proposal by UKS recently led to the reduction in the membership fee for new members of NBK (the two first years of being a member).
We are stronger together. Membership in UKS grants automatic membership in NBK. For more information on how to become a member, visit our membership page here.
UKS has made significant impact on cultural policy through broad and committed organizing around issues regarding artists’ living and working conditions. For that reason our political work is largely project-based. The results are apparent in, among other things, the establishment of the “Arrangørstøtteordningen”—a funding scheme for artist-run spaces—and “Kunstnerassistentordningen”—a funding scheme enabling a younger artist to work for an older, more established artist for a year. Both were initially established after successful lobbying initiatives by UKS.
You can read more about our main projects through these links: