The New Economy of Art: book and conversations

Past Project 2014

A book on value, patronage and emerging business models in contemporary visual art, co-published by Artquest and DACS

The New Economy of Art, edited by Gilane Tawadros of DACS and Russell Martin of Artquest, brings together a range of perspectives on the current economic infrastructure supporting the visual arts in the UK, its impact on individual artists and their capacity to make art. It includes contributions by:

  • Louisa Buck, writer and broadcaster
  • Alan Freeman, economist
  • John Kieffer, writer and arts policy advisor
  • Courtney J. Martin, art historian
  • Keir McGuinness, arts management consultant
  • Lynda Morris, curator and art historian
  • Andrea Phillips, Professor of Fine Art, Goldsmiths
  • Andrew Wheatley, Director, Cabinet
  • Kier McGuinness, art consultant.

As well as articles, the book contains specially commissioned art works by artists Sonia Boyce, Jeremy Deller and Barbara Steveni.

Collectively, the contributors expose the paradox of the UK’s art economy and ultimately, its fragility; where an unregulated art market grows at a rapid rate while individual artists’ capacity to make art is threatened by a vulnerable and precarious income.

You can order your copy of the book online from DACS.

The book was launched at the House of Commons in December 2014 at an event attended by MPs and senior art world representatives to discuss artists incomes and working conditions.

To deepen discussion around the issues it raised, Artquest and DACS organised a series of three debates and talks from December 2014 to April 2015.

An unregulated art market enables the exploitation of artists and money laundering: a panel on the art market and regulation: Wednesday 15 April 2015

The global art market is both a multi-billion pound industry and completely unregulated. Accused of permitting tax evasion, money laundering, price manipulation and trading on inside information, the art market also concentrates money and power in the hands of a few at the expense of better incomes for the artists who supply it. Does an unregulated art market actually encourage enterprise and reduce bureaucracy; or does its lack of transparency harm both artists and the public opinion of art? This panel considers the advantages and disadvantages of regulation and what it might mean for artists.

Speakers Christopher Battiscombe (Director General of the Society of London Art Dealers, and Secretary of the British Art Market Federation), René Gimpel (art dealer and Director of Gimpel Fils Gallery, London and galerie gimpel & muller, Paris) and Keir McGuinness (management and art consultant working with galleries, artists and creatives businesses) put across their differing viewpoints before an open question session with the audience

This talk was not recorded.

The (in)compatibility of public and private income: Wednesday 4 March 2015

All money comes with strings attached, but how can we better understand the impact that these conditions have on our aims as artists? Public funders increasingly demand measurement of positive audience impact, while philanthropic funds are sometimes tainted with accusations of corporate whitewashing. With public funds spent on helping organisations increase their private income, are we risking a time when only wealthy individuals will have a say on what art is produced and exhibited? How can artists, funders and philanthropists navigate and understand these interlinking currents?

This debate focussed on the restrictions and influences that different sources of funding have on artists, and how this impacts on the risks artists can take in their practice.

Speakers Stella Ioannou (Co-Director, Sculpture in the City and director, Lacuna), Andrea Phillips (Professor of Fine Art, Goldsmiths, and co-director of The Aesthetic and Economic Impact of the Art Market), and Ben Tufnell (Director, Parafin Gallery, formerly curator at Tate Britain and Director of Exhibitions at Haunch of Venison) set the scene before an open dialogue with the audience.

Going to art school is a terrible way to learn about being an artist: Wednesday 3 December 2014 

This conversation focussed on the place, purpose and function of art school education and its contemporary use in training a new generation of artists. Speakers Professor Juan Cruz (artist and the Dean of the School of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art) and Andrew Brighton (formerly Senior Curator: Public Events at Tate Modern) debated the topic, followed by questions and discussion with the audience.

The publication builds on a series of eponymous public debates organised by DACS and Artquest that took place between 2009, 2011 and 2012.

PrintThe New Economy of Art publication and debate series were supported with funding from Arts Council England.

The New Economy of Art book jacket: ‘We sit starving amidst our gold’ William Morris
Wall painting by Stuart Hughes of William Morris throwing Roman Abramovich’s yacht Luna into the Venetian lagoon. Part of Jeremy Deller’s installation in the British Pavilion, Venice 2013.
Image courtesy the British Council/Cristiano Corte