art tech, institute,; arttech; innovation; art; technology; digital

Why now

Digital in UK museums #arttech
23% of museums had a standalone digital exhibition #arttech

A Point of no return

Arttech startups are challenging the art market scene for some time now. They are working across the whole value chain but it till now it was too early to call it a serious trend. Little has been done by well known incumbents in the art market and institutions. It seems the market needed incentives and the feel of urgency to transform.

Art market adopted digital but without redefining the underlying models and rethinking it’s role (less than 50% of museums indicated that digital is important from a business model perspective). Digital and innovation is not about putting things on screen and re-purposing the content to showcase online. It requires complete redesign of the proposition with particular focus on social value delivered and engagement models. So far, there has been little of true innovation, especially when it comes to big existing art market participants. In fact, there was actually a downward trend in R&D behaviours - in 2019 only 27% of organisations were willing to engage in experimentation with technology. This could point to a failure of organisational culture to change and adapt in response to digital opportunities and new lockdown reality. This is surely contributing to the fact that institutions are struggling during lockdown.

In addition only 23% of museums in the UK held a standalone digital exhibition in 2019 and less than 50% thought that digital is important for exhibiting. All the statistics quoted here are quoted from a report by Arts Council England and Nesta: “The Digital Culture 2019” published in February 2020 (just before the lockdown started in Europe). We can only imagine how different the responses would be now and it just goes to show, how the art market needs to change and do it rapidly.

It is clear that the institutions need to rethink their proposition as the limitations related to pandemic will not go away soon. It also needs to redefine the way they serve their local societies. Experience from other sectors like fintech or insurtech is indicating that you know innovation will accelerate once the big incumbents are starting to make a move. And this is exactly what happens in the art market now. We’re seeing new initiatives from tier 1 art galleries and institutions: Hauser and Wirth launching their lab; Pace starting with PaceX project, LACMA also launching labs, Christie’s organising and arttech summit for some time now.

With all of this happening, you know something is cooking. Stay tuned - we’ll be keeping an eye on what’s hot and new in #arttech.