The art world is changing: these are the trends

  • national institutions

Organizations Art is A Guaranty and Cultuur+Ondernemen organized a number of Artist Meetings, in which artists explored with experts how they could strengthen and expand their independent social and economic position. In BK-information we provide abridged reports of each Artist Meeting that Cultuur+Ondernemen made. This time lots of useful information and tips on trends in the art world.

System Change

An associate professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Ellen Loots specializes in arts management, cultural organizations and creative entrepreneurship, and has a good understanding of trends in the sector. The art market is a good example of the winner-takes-it-all principle: relatively much attention and money goes to a small group of artists. Yet there are also plenty of opportunities off the beaten path. According to Loots, we are on the eve of a new, substantial systemic change in the art world.

Where is this systemic change coming from? All sorts of things are going on in the world. Environment and climate are becoming increasingly important. The UN Sustainable Development Goals should contribute to a greener, fairer and better world in 2030. And with that, the economy is slowly but surely changing: from a system purely about growth and money, to a world in which other values are important, such as food, equality, health care or education. This has an effect on the art world in which certain patterns are crumbling and new ones are taking their place.

Systemic change and associated opportunities are taking place on four fronts:


1. Entrepreneurship

In the Netherlands, half of all those working in the arts and culture sector are entrepreneurs. That's a lot, especially compared to other countries. Worldwide, the average dangles around thirty percent. Entrepreneurship means: experimenting, seeing and seizing opportunities. That sounds harsh and numerical, but it is not necessarily so. Cultural entrepreneurs innovate precisely (also) on an artistic level. Indeed: the will to innovate is ONEn of the motivations that strongly distinguish entrepreneurs in this sector from entrepreneurs in other sectors. From this point of view, 'opportunity' might be better described as 'necessity', because an artist's idea or plan is more likely to come from an intrinsic motivation than from an external source. And it is precisely thinking in new solutions, off the beaten path, that is very important in a world with the major challenges we face today.

From that perspective, "opportunity" might be better described as "necessity

Besides seeing opportunities, entrepreneurship roughly consists of two more steps. Namely: harnessing resources and taking action. That second step, in particular, is not straightforward for every entrepreneur in the cultural sector. Finding money and other sources requires a long breath. Investing in this side of entrepreneurship - seeking and finding resources, marketing, making sure you have a good story - is worthwhile. You can do that by educating yourself on entrepreneurship or by outsourcing it to a party that has these competencies.

2. Skills

Critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, re-thinking, innovation: many artists and creative makers have important 21st century skills in house. With this, they not only have something to offer for art and culture, but also for issues beyond that. This is increasingly being recognized by governments, social parties and companies. Witness the emergence of more and more different platforms that facilitate cooperation between the creative sector and parties outside it.

Time banking marks an interesting development

Cashing in on the value of skills can also be done in other ways. Of interest is the emergence of time banking: an exchange of time and talent. You do something for another person for an hour, and that hour enters your time bank as a "balance. That hour, in turn, you can use someone else's skills. You don't make money, but you get something else useful in return. It's based on the skills you use, and those skills are equal whether you spend an hour cleaning for someone, or doing something very complicated. A great example of a time bank for the creative sector is the Sheffield Creative Guild.

Time banking marks an interesting development, but it is also something to be wary of. Artists and creative makers have been asked so many times to do something without monetary compensation. Again, it's a matter of finding the right balance. Think of it as an opportunity to support each other and save other high costs. A community that has something to offer each other and the right technology is essential here.

3. Solidarity

Degrowth, post-capitalism, a solidarity economy. There is a tilt in the way we look at the world. Qualitative values such as people and nature increasingly prevail over growth and euros. Students talk and think about the design of education, buyers are increasingly central to the design of stores. We also see this development in the cultural sector, for example in the Fair Practice Code.

There is a tilt in how we look at the world

Cooperatives fit this idea well. Members of such an initiative share costs én benefits. There are roughly three possibilities for cooperatives. You can buy something together, run something together, or sell something together. Think of a gallery where artists are jointly responsible for space and programming, or a theater company that makes decisions collectively.

4. Artificiële intelligence

Opportunities én threats. It's both in the rise of Artifi-cial Intelligence (AI). Exactly what that looks like is difficult to predict. At the same time, developments are happening at lightning speed. Artifi-cial intelligence is going to change the work field of creators. A survey by the Kunstenbond shows that 96% of (voice) actors fear that AI will lead to job losses. The same is true for 75% of visual makers in the audiovisual sector (animation, post-production, etc.) and 75% of composers. "Don't let AI set your course, protect your work!" the Arts Union therefore says. With a special page, this organization offers tools, results and suggestions with which creators in the creative sector can arm themselves against the rise of AI or find possible opportunities.

Read the full report here

This report is based on the first meeting of the Artist Meetings 2023, a series of four sessions in which artists explore with experts how to strengthen and expand their independent social and economic position. The Artist Meetings offer reflection, insight and concrete tips for making strides in your own practice.
Artist Meetings 2023 is an initiative of Art is A Guaranty, filmmaker and art manager Annick Vroom, political geëngaged sculptor and conceptual visual artist Caspar Berger and Culture+Enterprise.

More Articles