Unions in the arts are not directly supported by government or the arts funding agencies. In order to be able to finance their services, unions charge subscription fees from their members and some unions have their own support funds. In spite of the lack of public funding, there are a number of unions and professional organisations that support artists and cultural workers. These include the Artists’ Union England in the field of visual arts, the Musicians’ Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians in the field of music, the Media and Entertainment Union BECTU, the National Union of Journalists, and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Equity, the union of professional performers and other workers from the entertainment and cultural industries sectors, works in partnership with the Sector Skills Councils and other agencies and charities to provide career, legal, health and welfare benefits for its members as well as advocate for their rights. Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), such as Screen Skills and Creative & Cultural Skills, are licensed by the Secretary of State for Education, in consultation with the relevant Minister in Wales, to tackle the skills and productivity needs of their sector.
However, Arts Council England supports a number of visual artists associations and services. These includeAxis, which provides information about contemporary artists through anonline database; a-n – The Artist’s Information Company, which provides information for artists to enable them to develop their practice and employment; InIVA (the Institute of International Visual Arts), which supports the work of artists from other countries whose work is outside the main canon of arts criticism and teaching, and the Contemporary Art Society, which for many years purchased work from contemporary artists and craftspeople to donate to museums. In the field of literature, support has been given to bodies such as the Arvon Foundation for writers and artists’ residencies. In the field of music, the Association of British Orchestras, which is the UK’s national body to represent the interest of British orchestras and ensembles, receives funding from Arts Council England.