Researched and written by Lucy Rose Sollitt, the Future of the Art Market Report reveals the art market’s tipping point moment and predicts the shape of changes to come.

Commissioned and published by Creative United in partnership with Arteïa, Creative Scotland and DACS, the Future of the Art Market Report surveys the significant changes that have occurred in the contemporary art market over the past 15 years and explores the dominant issues and trends that are likely to have an impact on the size and shape of the market in the decades to come.

A free, digital version of the Report can be viewed and downloaded here. A print version of the report is due to be published in January 2020 at the London Art Fair.

Capturing the contours of the current size and shape of the market through reference to a wide range of source material, the Report 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.

The Report 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.

Lucy Rose Sollitt, author of the report, said, “The idea for this report is to help galvanise conversations across public and private sectors about the realities of operating within today’s contemporary art market. How do we make it more equitable, resilient and even more successful? The report brings together commentary and seeks perspectives from artists and those who are speaking up about the necessary structural changes, to gain new insights into the forces shaping change.”

Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive at Creative United said, “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.”


Header image credits: Teresa Fan Photography