Women in the Art Industry
On Women's Day 2020, learn more about the shocking statistics about women in the art industry. Let's fight for a more equal art world together!
This Sunday marks a very special day for us here at Victory Art: International Women’s Day 2020. As we enter the new decade, we can look back at the innumerable, brave women who fought long and hard for us to exist in this space, share our thoughts, and be heard. But even though the world is moving to a more egalitarian society, there is much work to be done. And that’s what we will talk about today!
To honor this year’s theme "I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights ” we find it important to engage in more than superficial prattle and self-celebratory slogans. Instead, we’re going to celebrate all the wins we have had over the years AND call attention to disparities that need to be fixed within the world of visual arts.
Women's Day offer: The Ideal Woman
Let’s start with the basics: contemporary art is still very much dominated by male artists. Despite making up for 45% of artists, not only are female artists largely underrepresented but the pay gap is undeniably appalling. Only 14% of Top 500 artists are women and represent only 3-5% of major permanent collections in Europe and the USA. The research found that in 8 well-known Dutch museums, on average only 13% of artists in main, solo collections were female. Even when we move to a more common ground area for contemporary art, commercial galleries, collections by female artists make up for 30% (in the USA), 40% (in Australia), 25% (in China), 22%(in Hong Kong), and less than 20% (Germany) of the art displayed. Only 13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America are women. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. In spite of the late start, I’d certainly expect the numbers to be much higher in today’s society.
Women working across art professions make almost $20,000 less per year than men in the USA. On average, they earn 74 cents for every dollar made by a male artist. While luckily, women in the arts are found not to experience the “motherhood penalty” like other industries, men in the arts do experience the “marriage premium,”—an increase in pay for married men of roughly $7,200 per year that neither women nor single men experience. Men working in the arts also receive an income bump when they become fathers. On the other hand, women earn progressively less as they age. When researching 60,000 distinct artists across 45 counties, University of Technology researcher Marco Navone, reported that "even when we withdrew all the paintings above $1 million – the stars, like Leonardo da Vinci – you still see a gender pay gap of 28%".
Art is a voice: it is a tangible representation of one’s thoughts and experiences for the world to see. Not only does it give you permission to look inside another’s world but also gives you a wider understanding of how life is and can be experienced. Denying half the world that voice hardly seems fair. Even on a less romantic notion, being an artist is a legitimate profession. It requires dedication and discipline, and should no longer rely on the overplayed trope of the starving artist. Women artists need to get paid in order to continue working in their profession. And even if we can always respect that art preferences are subjective, how will you ever know if you like something if you never get a chance to experience them?
Women's Day offer: The Minimalist
Moving on to a less colorful (but very real) side of the visual arts world: the workforce of the industry. I’m happy to inform you that while improvements are necessary, things are looking up. While the majority of the workforce (70%) in museums and galleries constitute women, only a few are in leadership positions. While in 2005, women ran 32% of the museums in the USA, they now run 47.6%. It should be noted that we still lag behind men in directorships in larger institutions and still earn 75 cents for every dollar earned by male directors. This also seems to be the pattern in the UK. In the UK: 53% of museum and gallery directors in the non-profit sector are women. However, of the organizations receiving a high amount of funding, only 23% of the directors are women. It’s a mixed bag but at least the one we can be optimistic about.
I’m happy to also announce, as a professional in the field myself, I have had opportunities to work with many amazing women within this industry. Whether they be talented artists on the Victory Art platform, our team, or other partners, I’m fortunate to have been privy to such talent and expertise. So, we will continue to fight for a more equal art world. The last decade brought many strides to this industry. Let’s work so that the next one pushes a step closer to true generation equality.
Women's Day offer: The Non-Conformist
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