Austria does not have a single professional body that represents all visual artists. One of the most important associations is the IG Bildende Kunst which is also active in cultural policy issues. Furthermore there is the Berufsvereinigung bildender Künstler Österreichs with chapters in most of the Austrian federal states; in the western part of Austria one finds the Tiroler Künstlerschaft and the Berufsvereinigung der bildenden Künstler Vorarlbergs. Individual groups focusing on a specific discipline, e.g. photography or architecture, will also be mentioned briefly in this section.
IG Bildende Kunst
A self-organised association and interest group for visual artists in Vienna, founded in 1956 as successor to the Bundesverband bildender Künstler Österreichs (BVÖ). The mission and tasks of IG Bildende Kunst; taking an active part in political decision-making, achieving better conditions for artists, protecting and improving social, legal, economic and other professional interests. The association offers free services and advises on topics such as social security, right of establishment, fiscal law, copyright and resale rights. The gallery run by the association reflects its interests and organises curated group exhibitions based on contemporary concepts. The website provides a great deal of up-to-date information; a magazine (Bildpunkt) is published quarterly. Approximately 1,000 members.
Berufsvereinigung der Bildenden Künstler Österreichs
Founded in 1912, this national umbrella organisation for visual artists has its offices at Schönbrunn Palace, individual regional chapters exist in Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, and a shared office for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland. The mission of the association includes representing the professional interests of artists, organising and supporting exhibitions, as well as information and lobbying. Approximately 1,000 members.
Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs (VBKO)
The VBKÖ was founded in 1910 on premises in the city centre of Vienna. Its membership included well-known visual artists such as Tina Blau, Marie Egner, Helene Funke or Olgga Wisinger-Florian. The VBKÖ lobbied for women’s interests, striving to improve their situation in artistic, economic and educational terms, and concluded international co-operation agreements. Today, the VBKÖ considers itself an advocate of a contemporary, feminist and creative agenda, offering room for experiments and supporting activist work in order to create a link between historical challenges and contemporary, queer, feminist art production. One of the most recent efforts of the VBKO has been to open their space for German language classes for refugees. Working closely together in a practical learning context has brought with it the opportunity for an exchange of knowledge and experiences.
In principle, the photography chapter within the Federal Economic Chamber is the institution tasked with representing the interests of (professional) photographers. Given that photography and film encompass a wide field of specialisations – art, architecture, media, portraits – and that there is not a particularly large number of photographers and cinematographers able to make a living on art alone in Austria, the two groups united in the Syndicat Foto Film, which was very successful in 2012 in achieving a modification of the legal situation and ensuring free access to professional photography. The Syndikat has 686 members, who are also active in social networks and include photographers in employment, free-lancers and – the majority – one-person undertakings. People working in architecture have the option of joining IG Architektur. This body was created for mutual support and exchanges and to foster solidarity. Its demands include improved working conditions, equitable contract awards and a redefinition of the professional profile. The field of planning and environmental or urban development includes many overlaps with art. Number of members: 290. Set up in 2003 by about 20 photographers specialising in architecture, the IG Architekturfotografie is situated at the junction of architecture and photography. The group wants to improve their working context and also create awareness for the cultural and ideal values of architectural photography.