New academic report outlines future equitable art market powered by blockchain technologies

    Launched in the House of Commons by DACS, a new, groundbreaking report conducted by academics at the Oxford Internet Institute and The Alan Turing Institute envisions a future Fair Art Market model and financialisation of visual arts powered by the technology of blockchain.

    A fairer, future art market 2.0

    The result of nearly a year’s research and over 26 interviews conducted with industry experts in arts, finance and blockchain, The Art Market 2.0: Blockchain and Financialisation in Visual Arts introduces the benefits of introducing digital ledger technologies to the UK art market, with the proposed potential for a soaring increase in art market liquidity and value.
    Conducted by academics at The Alan Turing Institute and the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, The Art Market 2.0 looks into the effects of blockchain technologies on one of its least-discussed, and yet potentially most impactful areas – the art world.
    While issues of trust and governance are apparent in art markets worldwide, the application of digital ledger technologies would allow for verified transaction records and ownership, transparent and fair prices, easier royalty collection, and confirm art pieces’ provenance and authenticity. Easing the ability to sell quickly and increasing the liquidity is key to unlocking the art market and a distributed ledger-powered art trading platform could provide it.  
    The application of a transparent, accountable and fair art trading system such as a digital ledger would benefit all parties – artists, buyers and sellers.

    Looking to the future

    Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: "We want to unleash the creative power of technology and bring every cultural organisation into the digital age. This report is an important first step to helping the arts market plan for the future and harness the exciting potential of blockchain. As blockchain technology develops, we will work closely with the sector to explore how it can best be used across arts, music and our creative industries." 

    Gilane Tawadros, Chief Executive Officer at DACS, said: “This report makes clear the opportunities and risks facing artists in an increasingly digital world. Transparency, fairness and good governance are essential to ensuring a thriving and equitable marketplace for both artists, collectors and art market professionals. Our work with the Oxford Internet Institute and The Alan Turing Institute is an important step in understanding how technology can potentially support the aspirations of artists and consolidate the UK’s unique position in the art world.”

    A UK presence to uphold

    While the UK and London hold a central and significant position in the worldwide art market, the report cautions not to take this for granted. The UK’s arts and culture industries grew an incredible 10% last year, accounting for a staggering £8.5 billion, and yet if it does not work hard to attract leading tech companies and adopt new digital technologies that could power future art trading systems, it is likely to lose out on tax and royalties.
    Furthermore, the report proposes digital ledger technologies are an opportunity for the UK to develop its position as a world leader in art market equity. A recognition initially developed through principles such as the Artist’s Resale Right, a forward-thinking policy which entitles artists and estates to royalties from the resale of their works, the report proposes that the UK could now set a global benchmark for the digital economy in pushing for new conduct standards for equitable art trading in a new Fair Art Market model.  

    About the report

    This report is the product of nearly a year’s research conducted by academics at The Alan Turing Institute and the University of Oxford. It was funded by DACS and The Alan Turing Institute.
    The report is the outcome of 26 interviews with experts across the professional spectrum, all keenly involved with art, finance, and blockchain in some way, as well as five months of desk-based research.
    The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

    The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is a multidisciplinary research and teaching department of the University of Oxford, dedicated to the social science of the Internet.

    The launch in Parliament

    The launch event was held in the House of Commons and was attended by over 60 guests. Lively speeches were heard from DACS' own Mark Stephens CBE, as well as Kevin Brennan MP, Shadow Minister for the Arts; The Rt Hon Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Sir Peter Bazalgette and our research partner, Duncan MacDonald-Korth.

    Kevin Brennan MP, Shadow Minister for the Arts, opened his speech by confirming his commitment to blockchain, with the belief that it can "help support and benefit artists".

    The report had positive mentions in myriad news outlets, including the Financial Times and The New York Times.


    Find out more:

    Read Art Market 2.0: Blockchain and Financialisation in Visual Arts 
    Read our press release (PDF) 
    Find out more about the Oxford Internet Institute 
    Find out more about The Alan Turing Institute

    Image: Simon Denny, Blockchain Visionaries [with Linda Kantchev]. Installation View, Berlin Biennale 2016. Courtesy:  The artists, Berlin Biennale and Galerie Buchholz, Cologne/ Berlin/ New York. Photo: Hans-Georg Gaul.

    Posted on 22/05/2018 by Laura Ward-Ure