RBSA Membership

RBSA Members & Associates

Dating back to the early 1800’s, the RBSA is one of the oldest art societies in the UK and officially formed as the Birmingham Society of Artists in 1821.  It has a central governing body, the RBSA Council, and is made up of artists who are elected to be RBSA Members, Associates and Honorary Members.

Every two years, early-career artists are also elected to be Graduate Artists as part of the RBSA’s career development programme.

RBSA Members

Election Process

The RBSA (the Society) is an artist-led charity made up of a membership of some 190 artists, sculptors, textile artists, ceramicists and jewellers. It is a charity with the aim of furthering artistic practice and the public understanding of art.

To become a member of the Society it is necessary to be elected by the existing Members and Associates at an annual election in April.  You may be eligible to apply for Self-Nomination – see details below. The RBSA is one of the few Societies that owns a gallery, giving our RBSA membership excellent opportunities to show their work. All members pay an annual subscription currently around £200 and there is a 50% discount for artists aged 35 years or under.

Note: If you are accepted as a Candidate for Associateship there is an admin fee of £60 to be paid prior to the Candidates Exhibition.

All Candidates must first be elected an Associate by the existing Members and Associates of the Society. There are two ways of being nominated to become an Associate outlined below.

Applications for 2024 are open, the deadline is Wednesday 29 November 2023.

Please see application documents at the bottom of the page.

RBSA Associate Membership

Firstly, a candidate can be nominated by two full Members (known as Associate Nomination) or, secondly, via Self-Nomination. Self-Nomination is for an artist who does not know any Members but has shown at the gallery in the past and wishes to become an Associate.

There are two separate procedures for the different nomination paths, however, all potential candidates should read and download the Associates Application Pack to understand the nature of the RBSA as an artist-led charity and the benefits and responsibilities of Associateship.

Note: The Society expects those contemplating nomination to have a substantial body of work already in their portfolio from which they can select work to be shown in the Candidates Exhibition.

RBSA Associate Nomination

For those Candidates who have two full Members (not Associates) to propose and second their Nomination download the form and complete it with your details and obtain the original signatures of your proposer and seconder.

Also complete the section showing evidence of your previous connection with the Gallery indicating the exhibitions and events in which you have participated. This is important as the RBSA Council have indicated they are unlikely to approve a Nomination for Associateship unless they have some previous relationship with the Gallery. They may decide to hold the Nomination over for a year to enable the Candidate to establish a record of exhibiting.

RBSA Associate Self-Nomination

To qualify for self-nomination you must have had one work accepted in a minimum of three RBSA Open and/or Prize exhibitions over the last six years -that is from the period beginning January 2017. Exhibition acceptances for the Friends exhibition or by organisations other than the RBSA do not count for this purpose. This is to demonstrate that candidates are familiar with and have shown some commitment to the RBSA by submitting consistently high-quality work.

If you are able to meet this requirement, download the Self-Nomination Form, complete the details including the dates of the exhibition acceptances, and send it to the Hon Secretary with your CV on one page of A4 only. Do not send any digital images until you are invited to do so.

The President and a small group of senior members will evaluate your application with the images in November and a decision on whether to accept your nomination will be made in December by the RBSA Council who will at the same time review the Associate nominations. There is no limit of the number of nominations approved by the Council. To accord with the rules of the RBSA a proposer and seconder will be found for successful self-nominators. For those who are unsuccessful at self-nomination the Council has decided that candidates should not expect to receive any feedback. A further application for self-nomination cannot be submitted within three years.

RBSA Member Nomination

An artist must first be elected as an Associate before being considered for election as a full Member. The RBSA Council has decided that they will not normally approve a nomination for Member unless the following criteria are met:

  1. The nomination is not made before the third anniversary of their being elected an Associate (eg for those elected at the 2019 AGM as Associates, they would be eligible for nomination for the elections in 2022).

  2. The Candidate is able to demonstrate ‘participation’ or some other contribution to the Society over the period of their Associateship.

  3. None of the six works shown in the Associates Candidates Exhibition may be shown in the Members Candidates Exhibition.

If elected as a Member, it is a requirement of the Society for the artist to donate a Diploma work to the Permanent Collection which must be representative of their current practice.

If you have any queries or questions, please contact our Hon Secretary Rob Leckey via email hon.secretary@rbsa.org.uk