Community interest company Creative United, in partnership with Arteïa, Creative Scotland and DACS, has released a new report that predicts how the art market will develop and change in the years to come.

Researched and written by Lucy Rose Sollitt, The Future of the Art Market Report surveys the changes that have occurred over the past 15 years in order to forecast the dominant issues and trends moving forward.

The report looks at specific sections of the market, including emerging artists, theorists, gallerists and critics, to gain new insights into the key things shaping the art market ecosystem today. Contributors include art critics The White Pube, Arcadia Miss Gallery founder Rosza Farkasby, writer and theorist Penny Rafferty, artist Harm Van Den Dorpal, and Verisart CEO and co-founder Robert Norton.

Amongst its key findings is the extreme fragility of the current art market ecosystem, highlighting the challenges faced by those operating in the low and mid segments of the market.

In his think piece, Robert Norton says that despite access to art being easier than ever, what hasn’t changed is how visual artists get remunerated from the sale of their works.

He comments: “Unlike other artists such as musicians and writers, visual artists face a tough journey to fully monetise and realise the value of their intellectual property. The market economics are undoubtedly different. Visual artists primarily create unique works for sale and are not appealing to the mass-market from a purchase point of view.”

He also points out that although DACS has distributed more than £50 million to more than 4,000 artists and artists’ estates in the last 10 years, when compared to the $60 billion per year in annual art market sales, this is a very small percentage.

The report suggests that the market and wider artworld is reaching a tipping point of structural change, highlighting the impact of new and ‘potentially disruptive’ technologies. Norton suggests that blockchain, otherwise known as distributed ledger technology, could offer artists more stability.

“If you look at the success of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and Kiva, there are strong reasons to believe that new online communities will emerge around artistic intention, consumer friendly interfaces and trusted technologies. The era of retained artist equity has finally arrived.”

The report also suggests that it is up to policy-makers, development agencies, funders, collectors and patrons to decide how deep the changes need to go in order to secure the future health of the UK’s market overall.

Lucy Rose Sollitt, author of the report, comments: “The idea for this report is to help galvanise conversations across public and private sectors about the realities of operating within the contemporary art market today. I hope that the voices of those who are bringing new perspectives and speaking up about the structural changes needed in order to achieve a more equitable, resilient and even more successful market, are heard. It seeks to bring together commentary in order to gain new insights into the forces shaping change.”

Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive at Creative United, adds: “It’s easy to forget just how much has changed in the last 15 years in terms of artists’ practice, the physical and virtual environments in which work is presented, and the role of galleries, dealers and other intermediaries in facilitating sales. We hope that the Future of the Art Market Report will enable the sector at large to reflect on what’s happened, and why.”

More importantly, we hope that the report will provide a starting point for us all to consider the opportunities opening up ahead of us, and what role we can each play in influencing the shape of things to come through further innovation, experimentation and investment in art and artists as a critically important part of the UK’s creative economy.”

A digital version of The Future of the Art Market Report can be downloaded here:

1. Future of the Art Market graphic. © Creative United, 2019

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