The Royal Ulster Academy is an artist led organisation which aims to celebrate, enrich and expand contemporary approaches to the visual arts. It was originally founded as The Belfast Rambler’s Sketching Club in 1879, became the Ulster Academy of Arts in 1930, and finally the Royal Ulster Academy in 1950.
There are four categories of Academy membership – Academician (RUA), Senior Academician (SRUA), Associate Academician (ARUA) and Honorary Member (HRUA). Membership is by peer nomination and election only, at the organisation’s annual general meeting.
The Royal Ulster Academy is a charity and raises funds through exhibition entry fees, commission on sales, sponsorship and artistic grants. It is governed by a Council made up of both members and non–members of the Academy. The current Council comprises: Dr Denise Ferran President, Neil Shawcross (Vice President), Joe Higgins (Honorary Treasurer), John Sherlock (Honorary Secretary), Barbara Allen ARUA, Margaret Arthur RUA, Jenny Cooke, Graham Gingles RUA, Noelle McAlinden, Bob Sloan RUA and Paul Walls ARUA.
Each year the Academy hosts an Annual Exhibition in Belfast showcasing the work of Academy members, invited artists and artists selected through open submission. Previously run on a voluntary basis, the organisation engaged its first full time employee in July 2007, and took up office space in the Cathedral Quarter area of Belfast in September of the same year.