The Future of the Art Market

What will the UK contemporary art market look like in 2030?

The first major study of it’s kind to be undertaken in the past 15 years

In 2018-2019, Creative United started a significant research project aimed at exploring the social, economic and technological developments that have impacted the UK Contemporary Art Market in the past 15 years. Authored by Lucy Rose Sollitt, The Future of the Art Market Report.

Published in partnership with Arteïa, Arts Council England, Creative Scotland and DACS, The Future of the Art Market Report was officially released as a digital only publication on 12 November 2019. A print version of the report is due to be published in January 2020 at the London Art Fair.

Through a concise, clearly structured, engaging and informative style, the Report captures the contours of the current size and shape of the market through reference to a wide range of source material, and takes an independent look at specific segments of the market – including artists and sellers – without falling back on the ‘usual suspects’ or corporately driven art market commentary. Instead, it looks to emerging practitioners – artists, theorists, gallerists and critics – to gain new insights into the forces and tensions shaping the art market ecosystem today, as well as its future trajectories.

Acknowledging that the global art market has been dramatically reshaped over the last two decades and that the expansion of the creative industries have contributed to an unprecedented rise in demand for art, the Future of the Art Market Report suggests that momentum is gathering around questions of exactly who is benefiting in the current market and whether it is worth trying to participate or seeking new ways to operate instead.

The Report highlights the extreme fragility of the current art market ecosystem and presents the practical and philosophical challenges faced by those operating in the low and mid segments of the market, mainly their struggle in reaching buyers and accessing private capital.

It also suggests that new and potentially disruptive technologies and the associated behaviours of an emerging generation of artists, dealers/curators and collectors could add further to this discussion. Taken together, these forces could mean that the market (and wider artworld) is reaching a tipping point of structural change.

The Future of the Art Market Report avoids a sales and statistics-led approach to these matters in favour of nuanced and incisive contributions including ‘think-pieces’ by writer and theorist Penny Rafferty, artist Harm Van den Dorpel, art critics The White Pube, Arcadia Miss Gallery founder Rosza Farkas and Verisart CEO and co-founder Robert Norton.

They all suggest new cutting-edge points of views on topics such as the lack of diversity in the market; money distribution in the art world; alternative ways to set up and operate a commercial gallery and the role played by blockchain technology and downloadable artworks in the emergence of a digital art market.

The Future of the Art Market Report notes that it is up to those directly working in the market as well as policy-makers, development agencies, funders, collectors and patrons to decide how to overcome these challenges and how deep the changes need to go in order to secure the future health of the UK’s market overall, ultimately suggesting the possibility for structural change.

Image of people at the Unconference at Somerset House


To coincide with the launch of the Report, Creative United organised the UK’s first Future of the Art Market Unconference on 13 November 2019.

Produced in partnership with and UCL Innovation & Enterprise, the Future of the Art Market Unconference was one of the year’s most significant events in the art industry calendar.

Hosted by Somerset House with support from Creative Scotland and international auction house Phillips, the event was a first-of-its-kind opportunity for those working at the intersections of contemporary art practice, technology, social change and commerce to come together, both virtually and physically, to debate current and emerging trends in the contemporary art market in the UK.

The Unconference promoted a collaborative, proactive dialogue shaped by its participants, without the top-down, rigid approach of conventional panel discussions and presentations, allowing all participants to have an opportunity to voice and discuss their opinions with their peers.

Click here to view and download the Future of the Art Market Report.

Join the online debate on social media using hashtag #FOTAMUK. 

Header photo by Teresa Fan Photography

 In partnership with

  • Arts Council England
  • DACS