Friday, November 28, 2014

Australia Council 2008-14

In case you have ever wondered how the Australia Council fares on gender representation when awarding their grants, CoUNTess is here to share the data with you. And the news is positive.

We have discovered Tableau Public a data-visualisation tool with which to crunch the numbers in many complex ways. Where we would normally collect and count the gender representation figures ourselves, we have availed ourselves of the publicly available data published by the Australia Council  for the Arts, which has handily counted for us all the Visual Arts Board  grants awarded from 2008 to 2014 (here).

Our findings discovered that over these nine years women are indeed the largest group of funded individuals receiving almost $300,000 more than male artists, who are the second biggest individual category. CoUNTess knows there are actually more women artists than men artists because 65% of graduates from art degrees are women, so a 50.73% representation of women in this category is quite an achievement given the usual trend of under-representation-despite-tertiary-majority.

The amount of $ funded by grants each year has drastically dipped in 2014 by about half a million dollars.

The 'All Grants Funded' graph shows two categories where men are funded more than women: the 'New Work Established' category and the 'Studio Residencies'. We also grouped the funded grants data by year and by state to see if there where any fluctuations. One trend we noticed was that in 2010 the mens percentage of the total grants spiked.

The following graph shows the number of individuals who received one grant, two grants, three grants and more between 2008 and 2014.

The people making the decisions on grant recepients is the Peer Assessment Panel. From 2008-2011 the Peer Assessment Panel consisted of 5-7 people chaired by Ted Snell OAM; an artist and career academic with an impressive history of board chairing since 1999.  After 2012 the Australia Council website names the panel members but does not distinguish the roles of chair, voting member or peer advisor. 

Starting in 2008 you will notice there has been non-artists and crafts people on the peer panel: gallery directors, curators and arts writers. You will also notice how in 2014 the percentage of artists on the panel drastically reduced, from, on average, 65% to 27%.  There has certainly been a change of guard and the baby boomer three-year panel members reign is over. They been replaced by a much younger generation of artists and arts professionals who might sit on only one panel meeting.

There is another layer of data the Australia Council for the Arts provides: funding to organisations. It will take a lot more digging to see how the funded organisations distributed their grants. In our next post, CoUNTess will reveal the gender breakdown of these grants. This data dig should be interesting, as previous CoUNTess posts have shown that CAOS galleries have not distributed their funds with gender parity.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


A consistent number at the CoUNTesses offices is 40.  That's 40% on average of representation of women artists in Australia's public and commercial galleries.  But CoUNTess noticed a couple of changing signs that inch our numbers closer towards equality in gender representation in the visual arts we thought we would share with you.  42 for now is the new 40.

First of all, we're pleased to see so many female artists represented by commercial galleries and getting some wall space at this this years Gallery Art Basel Hong Kong. In fact, 42% of the Australian galleries artists in the Hong Kong Basel Art Fair are women!

Diane Tanzer - Natasha Bieniek
Utopian Slumps - Jake Walker
Sullivan_Strumpf - Sam Leach, Tony Albert, Ex de Medici, Alex Seton
Tolarno Gallery - Anastasia Klose, Patricia Picinini, Ben Quilty
Jan Murphy Gallery - Danie Mellor
Murray White Room - Polly Borland, Anne-Marie May, Alasdair McLuckie, Aubry/Broquard
Anna Schwartz - Heman Chong, Angela de la Cruz
Roslyn Oxley9 - Daniel Boyd, Fiona Hall

CoUNTess has been keeping a running tab of art prizes over the last twelve months (but admits it is not an exhaustive range) but found have found changes here, too, in the land of art prizes with 42% of the 2013 winners being female artists!

While understanding the limits of magical thinking and the claim that 42 is the answer to the universe and everything, and remembering that Elvis did not live to see 43, CoUNTess believes that 42 is indeed a special number that we will be keeping our eye on.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The 19th Biennale of Sydney 2014 : Imagine what you desire

The Biennale of Sydney established in 1973 has been curated by 4 women, 14 men and 1 collaborative team (m+f).

biennale of sydney curators
The 19th Biennale of Sydney - Imagine What You Desire is curated by Julianna Engberg and continues the curator's commitment to exhibiting women artists - a commitment established via her role as Artistic Director of ACCA for many years, where a high representation of women artists have been shown.  Engberg includes 38 female artists and 45 male artists in the 19th Biennale which shows a promising result and a steep improvement on previous years.

Gender Representation of Artists in the 19th Biennale of Sydney 2014

But while women are certainly participating in the 2014 Biennale in greater numbers, CoUNTess data-mining disappointingly uncovered a gender bias in the media and marketing around the exhibition/event.  

Catalogue cover = 1 male artist
Website links to Youtube video interviews with artists = 3 male artists, 1 collab duo (m+f)
Primary School education resource = 4 female artists, 11 male artists and 3 collab
Secondary School education resource = 10 female artists, 15 male artists, 5 collab

While the website also features a list of exhibitions in local commerical and public galleries. Selection for inclusion in this list is unclear - so CoUNTess counted a range of local Sydney contemporary art spaces to see what artists were on show.

* indicates gallery was holding two solo exhibitions