Art Industry News: Artists Create Powerful Digital Tributes to Martin Luther King Jr. for the Billboard of a Brooklyn Institution + Other Stories

Plus, some museums are reopening in Italy and how arts funding actually grew (a bit) under Trump.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the digital tribute, "Let Freedom Ring," on January 16, 2021 in New York City. Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images.

Art Industry News is a daily digest of the most consequential developments coming out of the art world and art market. Here’s what you need to know on this Monday, January 18.


Arts Funding Actually Grew Under Trump – Despite the US President Trump’s efforts to eliminate the National Endowment of the Arts, the agency survived his term and its budget even increased a small amount, thanks to bipartisan efforts in Congress, which acted like a “firewall.” Among the main reasons for the endowment’s survival is that it is a relatively meager amount of money. The 2021 budget is $167.5 million—a fraction of the UK’s $1 billion culture budget, and just about what New York along spends on its own cultural affairs. (New York Times)

Arts Groups Scramble to Hire Diversity Officers – After last year’s rush to create more inclusion and diversity at museums in the US, institutions still have a long way to go. Hiring diversity officers is not enough to make a museum antiracist, as manifold challenges remain. Making museums less exclusive is an uphill battle, given that antiracism goals are hard to quantify and measure, and funding must be tracked down and allocated. (NYT)

Digital Artists Pay Tribute to MLK – A looping billboard tribute to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is now on view at the Brooklyn Academy of Music until next Friday. Curator Larry Ossei-Mensah chose the title of the project “let freedom ring” from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” Text and image-based works feature seven participating artists, including Derrick Adams, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, and Hank Willis Thomas. (NYT)

Paris Closes in on Art Forgery Ring – A group of suspects accused of being part of an art forgery ring will soon appear in a Paris court. The men and women are being charged with selling fakes worth €20,000–€30,000 ($24,000–$36,000), including famous sculptures by Niki de Saint Phalle. They were arrested on January 11, and officials seized around €150,000 ($180,000) in unsold alleged fakes. (Le Parisien)


Prominent Political Artist Gets Gallery Representation – Peter Kennard will now be represented by Richard Saltoun gallery in London. Kennard is known for his provocative photomontages that offer incisive commentary on nuclear weapons or government policies. (The Art Newspaper)

South South Has Launched Its Online Platform – More than 50 participating galleries will participate in the new online resource hub South South, which launches today. Galleries including SMO Contemporary Art from Lagos, Nigeria, El Apartamento from Havana, Cuba, and Dastan’s Basement from Tehran, Iran are taking part in the initiative that aims to showcase programs and profiles of artists from the Global South. The first event on the site will be SOUTH SOUTH VEZA in February, a live auction featuring select works from participating galleries. (Press release)


Museums Reopen in Some Italian Regions – The European nation that was hardest hit by coronavirus in spring is now introducing a tricolor tier system in hopes of reopening parts of the country. Museums in “yellow zones” may re-open to the public with health measures in place starting today. The Uffizi, which is in Florence and in the yellow, is set to open in the next few days. (RFI) (Press release)

Singapore Art Week Moves Ahead – The nine-day long Singapore Art Week is on starting today, despite the ongoing restrictions in the city-state. The highlight event of the week is the annual “Light to Night” festival that sees Singapore’s Civic District buildings including the National Gallery Singapore and Victoria Theatre lit up. (South China Morning Post)


A 3D Scan Looks Inside Christ the Redeemer Scientists can see inside the famous monument in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thanks to a 3D scan that has assembled 180 million data points. The scan allows viewers to see the narrow staircases that snake up the inside as well as the carved marble base beneath it. (Daily Mail)

Poster Campaign By the White Pube Spotted in London – The UK art criticism platform The White Pube has released a poster campaign around London and Liverpool. “Ideas for a new art world”  proposes simple and profound suggestions for institutions. (Twitter)

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