Sunday, December 18, 2016

2016 - 2017

It has been way too long between posts, but we have been having a bit of a rest here at CoUNTess since publishing in March.  

The primary statistic uncovered by The Countess Report is that women represent 75% of graduates from visual art degrees at universities, yet less than 50% representation in commercial and museum shows.

Recent 2016 data collected for Masters and Phd graduates at the following popular universities:
Monash University 6 women, 2 men; COFA UNSW 15 women, 5 men; SCA University of Sydney 12 women, 9 men (PhD graduates 6 women, 1 man) and RMIT 13 women, 9 men.  Total - 46 women graduates (64%) and 25 men from these four institutions (35%).  

But when we look at artists represented by commercial galleries, or in curated museum exhibitions like the freshly minted 'The National 2017' women make up only 47% of the artists.  

Playing with data is fun because it's furnished by so many details of an artist's life being made so publicly available - for example when, apart from reading a celebrity magazine at the supermarket check out, is a persons age so often referred to? Although, to be fair, the art world's referencing of an artist's age or date of birth is done in a less up-front way than a magazine cover, they do it via a plaque on a museum wall. It is the museum's public, taxonomical system of recording an artist's work and life into official local, state and national history that inscribes historical status. Perhaps this is why this information is so well tended to in the archives (online or wall text) of an institution? Interestingly, while we were easily able to find online the date of birth of every single artist in 'The National 2017', but got no results when searching the same for the curators!

Wall plaques also refer to where an artist was born or lives.

Sometimes a work or image is courtesy of an artists gallery representation - here 25% of the women in the show do not have gallery representation ,while 75% of them do. This compares to 9% of men with no gallery representation and 91% who do.

Throsby & Hollister’s 2003 economic study of professional artists: "Don’t give up your day job." 67% of visual art respondents nominated formal tertiary education as the most important training they undertake to become an artist (p30). 

75% of the artists in 'The National 2017' have graduated from university with a visual art degree, but you will notice that only 10% of the total women have no degree compared with 40% of the total men.  Surmising that 90% of the women in the show have a degree compared to 60% of the men sheds some light on the who needs qualifications to establish their status as an artist, and who is naturally awarded the privilege. 

Artists in 'The National 2017' with degrees graduated from the universities listed above. For comparison, below is a chart from showing the gender representation of graduates from these schools in 2014.

CoUNTess has big plans for 2017 and we hope you can be a part of them - we will be launching one of those crowd sourcing fundraising campaigns to raise money to help realise the following projects: 

1. Print The Countess Report 2016 into a booklet with ISBN and distribute to all art school libraries and high schools.  
2.  Create specific educational materials to be available for high school students, and apply for this to be a part of the HSC, VCE etc curriculum.  
3. Commission a guest editor to run the CoUNTess blog and social media for 12+ months and provide writers fees and mentorship.
4. Create a new online system to enable self-reporting data collection of institutions' gender representation.

Stay tuned, more news soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NAME THAT ARTIST! CoUNTess Drop In Centre @ Ideas Platform, Artspace Sydney 3-8 May 2016

Name that artist! Drop-in Centre, Gift Shop, Gender Bias Testing Machine, Discussion, Feedback, Interviews,

Elvis Richardson, artist and author of The Countess Report ( will be in residence at the Ideas Platform @ Artspace Sydney from the Tuesday 3rd - Saturday 7th May 2016.  The public and interested parties are invited to meet with Elvis in this drop-in / discussion space to share their feedback and responses to The Countess Report in person. You can also share your thoughts on The Countess Report online via twitter #thecountessreport during this time.  

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Countess Report

On Tuesday 8 March 2016, coinciding with International Women’s Day, CoUNTess will release a new report on gender representation in the contemporary visual arts. The report reveals that there is a continuing imbalance of power in the art world, with men holding more positions at senior levels and male artists significantly better represented by commercial galleries.  

The Countess Report is a benchmarking project and online resource on gender equality in the Australian contemporary art sector. Put together by Elvis Richardson, it compiles and analyses data on education, prizes, funding, art media, organisational makeup, and exhibitions of various kinds across a wide range of galleries including national and State, regional, commercial, ARIs (Artist Run Galleries), and CAOs (Contemporary Art Spaces). The Countess Report is based on publically available data collected from websites, exhibition catalogues, magazines and media in the calendar year 2014 - a year chosen because the data set is recent, complete and still readily available. Detailed findings now available in The Countess Report offer evidence of gender disparity in the arts that was not previously available, and provide test-case samples for future benchmarking.

The Countess Report was conducted by Elvis Richardson, through the initiative and research funding of the Cruthers Art Foundation and assistance provided by NAVA, and an Advisory Committee composed of Dr. Eva Cox AODr. Jacqueline MilnerTamara Winikoff OAM, Amanda Rowell and John Cruthers,who have overseen the Countess Report and provided invaluable guidance and assistance.