What we do

The aims of our charity are detailed in our Articles of Association which were set out in 1912. These are: to nurture engagement with the visual arts, to encourage participation in the visual arts, and to support artists in the development of their practice.  


Members and Associates
of the RBSA are responsible for the delivery of the Society’s charitable objectives, for its governance and financial stability, and for the management of its gallery, the RBSA Gallery. They elect a Board of Trustees to manage the Society and the Gallery, pay an annual subscription, which covers around 16% of our running costs each year, and volunteer their time to support the charity. The RBSA Gallery, located just off St Paul’s Square in Birmingham, comprises two floors for temporary exhibitions, the ground floor Craft Gallery, three ground floor exhibition spaces for solo shows, a self-service café and storage areas for the Society’s Permanent Collection and archives.

In order to meet and deliver our charitable objectives we provide a comprehensive artistic programme each year. We ensure admission to all our exhibitions is free. All forms of connection with the Gallery, exhibitions, events, and education are intended to help support and promote engagement with the arts on a multitude of levels.

We stage a variety of exhibitions of contemporary art all aimed to benefit people from Birmingham and the region. We showcase high profile contemporary artists from the region and bring the work of nationally and internationally known artists to Birmingham through hosting solo shows. The ‘Members and Associates’ and ‘Candidates’ exhibitions are key calendar dates for the RBSA since they promote the skills and talents of both current and potential RBSA artists. In addition to this, six themed exhibitions of designer-maker craft are held each year in our critically acclaimed ground floor Craft Gallery. 

The annual programme also includes exhibitions aimed specifically at new and emerging artists, with two open submission and two Friends exhibitions each year. The ‘Open’ enables all local artists, including those not associated with the RBSA, to submit their work.  The ‘Friends’ provide ‘Friends of the RBSA’ with an exclusive exhibition opportunity. The ‘Friends’ programme also provides local art enthusiasts with other opportunities such as Friends talks or events and discounts on our workshops. We are also actively involved in promoting local art history and providing access to our historic Permanent Collection and archive, managed by our team of enthusiastic volunteers, made up of Members and Friends as well as Sixth Form and Undergraduate interns. 

Exhibitions are underpinned by events designed to develop audiences and to encourage participation. These include: demonstrations, family friendly workshops, talks and guided tours. We run art courses, including the Spring Workshops and the RBSA Summer School (a series of one to five day workshops held in the Gallery over the February half-term and throughout the summer and delivered by our Members and Associates). We also run a range of programmes for schools, particularly aiming to support children and schools in disadvantaged areas in the vicinity of the Gallery.