The arts, diversity, inclusion and the future

February 26, 2020

Has the art world become more inclusive? Do certain groups such as women, people of racial and ethnic diversity, and LGBTQ+ artists get the same opportunities? 


Change is coming

Art Acacia, a boutique art gallery with a presence in Europe and the United States, wrote a fascinating article in December last year about diversity in art. They see venues increasingly organizing exhibitions focusing on the work of specific groups in society, auction prices increasing, and long-neglected artists finally getting the recognition they deserve. 

In 2018 gay British painter, David Hockney, became the most expensive living artist when one of his paintings sold for just over US$ 90 million. Jenny Saville also set a new auction record for living female artists and Kerry James Marshall’s artwork “Past Times” became the most expensive work by a living African American artist. 

More opportunities

While these recent trends show that we are moving towards providing more opportunities and equality, the historic trend shows there is much more to be done. Art Net News has done some excellent analysis in this area. In September 2018, they reported that around US$ 2.2 billion had been spent at auction over ten years on African American artists’ works. This accounted for only 1.2 percent of the global auction market (US$ 180 billion) during the same period. The research also reveals that this value is concentrated among a small amount of high profile artists and exhibitions. 

There are now new schemes that provide new artists with a platform for sharing their work. The British-Nigerian artist, Yinka Shonibare, launched an artist residency program at two sites in Nigeria. The initiative, the Guest Artists Space (GAS) Foundation, aims to bring established and emerging artists together, and will be located on the Lekki peninsula to the east of Lagos city. GAS draws on the idea of Shonibare’s “Guest Projects” initiative that offers artists an opportunity to work in his London studio for a month.

Opportunities for women

In a separate article last year, Art Net News also analyzed opportunities for women. Their investigation concluded that the art market overwhelmingly finds greater value in male-produced work than that of women. Their research showed that more than US$ 196.6 billion was spent on art at auctions between 2008 and the first five months of 2019. Of this, work created by women accounted for only US$ 4 billion. This equates to around 2 percent. 

Putting this into context, works by Pablo Picasso generated US$ 4.8 billion at auction during the same period. This is more than the total spent on every single female artist in their analysis of almost 6,000.

What does the future look like? One example can be found in the United States, where the New York’s Museum of Modern Art has recently expanded and reshaped its collection to highlight works by women, African American, Asian and Latino artists. Their finest pieces are displayed with celebrated work by Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse to inspire new conversations and give new meanings to the museum collection.

More than just the artist

It’s important to recognize that inclusion is not just about the artists. Curators, museums, exhibitions, galleries, auctions, collectors can all increase access to art by embracing diversity. Some galleries are asking disabled visitors what they need to make visiting much easier. Social media enables everyone in the industry to share and make the love of art more accessible. International travel means enthusiasts are experiencing art from different cultures. 

Crown Fine Art

At Crown we specialize in moving works of fine art – our global service spans transportation, installation, storage and everything in between. When you employ over 80 different nationalities, you need to be open and inclusive. If you operate in 54 different countries, you must take responsibility in each of these societies.

Our aim is to become one of the world’s leading organizations in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). That’s the reason Crown Worldwide Group is a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). If you are familiar with the UNGC, you’ll know that it is the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative. It is a voluntary initiative based on the Chief Executive’s commitment to implement universal sustainability principles, and to take steps to support UN goals. Each year we report on the progress we have made in all our CSR activities. 

We place diversity at the heart of our CSR initiatives. We know that by bringing the diverse talents of our employees together we can play our part in increasing diversity, access and openness across all of the countries and industries in which work. 


If you'd like more information about Crown's CSR commitment or D&I initiatives, visit or contact Rosa Santilli, Group CSR and D&I Manager. 

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