The CoUNTess Report is a benchmark piece of research for the Australian visual arts sector.
Produced over a year by artist Elvis Richardson, this report reveals the extent of gender imbalance across the spectrum of the contemporary art world.
Author of the report, artist Elvis Richardson said, “Through my CoUNTess blog, I have been doing some overdue statistical research confirming what many have been discussing too quietly; the systematic gender inequality in the art world.”
Statistical data has been drawn from the nation’s state and publicly funded museums and galleries, the commercial gallery sector, leading contemporary art spaces and artist run initiatives. The report is funded by Western Australia’s Cruthers Art Foundation.
Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director of the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA) observed, “Despite the reputation of the arts as challenging outdated paradigms, it continues to fail on gender issues. Old habits die hard. We thought we’d won the battle in the 80s when the spotlight was shone on the systemic privileging of men in the arts. I hope this excellent report will rekindle the discussion and bring about a much needed change.”
The report highlights that:
- major collecting institutions favour solo exhibitions and the acquisition of new artwork by male artists
- overall women outnumber men as recipients of art prizes, however, when factoring in the prize pool, men receive a higher proportion of the prize money
- at a tertiary level (undergraduate and postgraduate) three quarters of visual arts graduates are women, however, once students graduate there is a significant drop in the programming,
- participation and representation of women artists in the nation’s major institutions, public art events and in the commercial art market
- a higher proportion of women serve in a voluntary capacity on the management committees and boards of Artist Run Initiatives than in each of the major state galleries.
A number of notable Australians from across the arts have contributed to and reviewed the final report including members of its steering committee: Dr. Eva Cox AO, Dr Jacqueline Milner, Tamara Winikoff OAM, Amanda Rowell and John Cruthers.
Dr Eva Cox said “The CoUNTess Report is an essential reminder that gender unfairly affects women in the visual arts, as in all other creative areas. The collected data confirm that biases filter the lived experiences of the 75% female visual arts graduates into only 34% of the creators of the art we see in state museums. The valuable details reported indicate where to search for clues of how masculinised merit judgments have infiltrated the judgment of so many of our cultural institutions, failing to represent the visions of women.”
Cruthers Art Foundation chair and project steering committee member John Cruthers said, “The report should be used to guide funding organisations, galleries, museums, exhibitions, foundations and arts media in areas of gender representation and gender equality. It also establishes a significant benchmark for gender representation in the Australian visual art sector so that our future progress towards equality can be quantified.”