Filter This collection: Association of Artists in Ireland

  • Title: Association of Artists in Ireland
  • Reference Code: IE/NIVAL AAI
  • Level of Description: Collection
  • Creation Dates: 1983 - 2002
  • Extent And Medium: Twelve series containing sixty-eight files. The material is mainly A4 sheets of paper or documents. A number of the original documents are on fax paper and the legibility has deteriorated so photocopies have been made of these.
  • Creators:
  • Repository: NIVAL

Scope and Content

This collection represents a small proportion of the administrative documents which would have been generated by AAI over its twenty years of operation. They are mainly documents prepared for or copied to Board or committee members, such as minutes of meeting and financial reports, or copied to or devised in conjunction with the Chair. The majority of items relate to the years 1994 to 1999, though some items are earlier or later. This collection has been catalogued and donated by Una Walker and is the first installment of a larger donation.

AAI Art Bulletins, published between 1981 and 2001 are available on request in NIVAL. NIVAL also holds a substantial collection of AAI administrative and financial papers donated in 2011. These have not yet been catalogued.

Administration and Biographical

The Artists Association of Ireland (later renamed the Association of Artists in Ireland) was established in 1981 as the representative organisation for professional visual artists in Ireland. It was also the Irish Committee of the International Association of Art (IAA), a UNESCO NGO based in Paris, and the first constitution of AAI was modelled on IAA Statutes. Robert Ballagh was the first Chair of AAI and was also the Treasurer of IAA from 1984 until 1989. Following extensive discussion by the AAI Executive Committee in the mid-1990s the proposal to become a company limited by guarantee without share capital was passed at the 1996 AGM and the not-for-profit company established in 1997.

AAI’s governing body was the Executive Committee, later renamed as Board of Directors after incorporation. As a members’ organisation all Committee/ Board members were elected at the AGMs by the membership and all were visual artists. In addition to elections the business of AGM's included reports to the membership on activities since the last AGM, motions for debate, and appointing the accountants. Some AGMs also included participatory or workshop elements and a social aspect such as a group dinner.

From the mid-1990s the AAI Executive Committee/Board and staff undertook a process of examining the role and direction of the organisation. At annual planning days the priorities for the coming year were discussed and agreed.

The AAI Art Bulletin was the main means of communication with the AAI membership and also served a wider constituency of artists and arts professionals. Prior to internet it was the main forum for information on jobs and opportunities for artists. It was first published in 1981 when it consisted of a folded A3 page. By 1996 it had 52 internal pages. As part of the 1995 Development Plan the first objective listed was to "Ensure that comprehensive and accessible information and training is available to artists on all aspects of their working lives". AAI members were supported by a number of programmes such as publications, training and an initiative to set up a copyright collection agency. In addition the AAI staff and Board made representations to the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and Islands and the Arts Council with the aim of improving visual artists’ working environment. AAI was also actively involved in national and international networks. The Executive Committee Guidelines from 1996 (See AAI/01/02) list ten national bodies on which AAI represented members' interests. These include the national Sculpture Factory, Dublin Corporation Public Art Advisory Group, the Copyright Association of Ireland, and the SIPTU Cultural Division. It also lists three international organisations: IAA, The European Forum for Arts and Heritage, and the European Council of Artists.

The first AAI Administrator was Elizabeth Ballagh. In the late 1980s Mary Bennett took over this post which was redefined as Director in 1992 when Stella Coffey was recruited. This post later was upgraded to CEO following the employment of a number of other staff members.

The position of Chair of AAI over the course of its existence was held by Robert Ballagh, Brian Maguire, Una Walker, Samuel Walsh, Stephen Rothschild, Eamon Colman, Sean Taylor and Eimear O’Connor. The final Acting Chair in 2002 was John Langan.


Access Conditions

This collection is available for consultation in NIVAL by appointment. A small number of items are closed to access.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Some originals are faxes which have faded to a greater or lesser degree. Photocopies have been made of these to facilitate readability and preservation.

Originals Information