A new report by DACS has outlined how a digital ledger-powered art market could improve the trading of art for artists, buyers and sellers.

The Art Market 2.0: Blockchain and Financialisation in Visual Arts explores how and in what specific areas blockchain technologies – a distributed database that isn’t stored in a single location, and is therefore unlikely to be corrupted by hackers – could be used to transform the art market, including method of sales, records of provenance, and transparency of ownership.

Among the key findings are that the application of digital ledger technologies would allow for verified transaction records and ownership, transparent and fair prices, easier royalty collection, and confirm art pieces’ provenance and authenticity. In short, the report argues that this will make it easier to sell art work quickly and in turn increase the market’s liquidity.

The report suggests that blockchain technologies will help artists monitor what their art is worth and collect any royalties due to them. It also argues that the UK is in a good position to set a global benchmark for the digital economy by pushing for a new standard for equitable art trading in a new ‘Fair Art Market’ model. It cites the Artist’s Resale Right as an example of how it is already taking a leading position in this area.

Gilane Tawadros, chief executive officer at DACS, said: “This report makes clear the opportunities and risks facing artists in an increasingly digital world. Transparency, fairness and good governance are essential to ensuring a thriving and equitable marketplace for both artists, collectors and art market professionals.

“It is an important step in understanding how technology can potentially support the aspirations of artists and consolidate the UK’s unique position in the art world.”

Matt Hancock, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said: “We want to unleash the creative power of technology and bring every cultural organisation into the digital age. This report is an important first step to helping the arts market plan for the future and harness the exciting potential of blockchain.

“As blockchain technology develops, we will work closely with the sector to explore how it can best be used across arts, music and our creative industries.”

The report is the result of nearly a year’s research and 26 interviews from industry experts in arts, finance and blockchain, conducted by academics at The Alan Turing Institute and the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

Download the full report: The Art Market 2.0: Blockchain and Financialisation in Visual Arts

Simon Denny, ‘Blockchain Visionaries’ [with Linda Kantchev], installation view, Berlin Biennale 2016. Courtesy: The artists, Berlin Biennale and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/ Berlin/ New York. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

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