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: Betty Brown (President), Joanna Mules (Vice President), Peter Neill (Vice President) Sean McCann (Honorary Treasurer), Rosemary Kelly (Honorary Secretary), Barbara Allen RUA, Jenny Cooke, Noelle McAlinden, Tony Hill ARUA and Paul Walls RUA.
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.