Art Industry News: Banksy Proposes Erecting a Statue of Protesters Tearing Down a Colonialist Statue + Other Stories

Plus, France triples its aid for artists and the Smithsonian launches a new initiative to explore how Americans think about race.

Banksy's response to the question, What should we do with the empty plinth in the middle of Bristol? Photo: Instagram.

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 Tuesday, June 9.


Dip in UK Public Arts Funding Leaves the Sector Vulnerable – According to the annual Arts Index, public investment in the arts per capita in the UK tumbled by a staggering 35 percent over the past decade. Meanwhile, earned income by arts organizations from things like ticket sales increased by 47 percent. Considering this trend, the Arts Index’s commissioner, National Campaign for the Arts, is concerned that theaters and cinemas could be decimated by the prolonged shutdown. “It’s bitterly ironic that the arts sector’s resourceful response to the 2008 financial crash is now the very thing that makes it vulnerable to the COVID-19 crisis,” said its chair Samuel West, “with theaters closed and income from tickets and bars dropping off a cliff.” (BBC)

Advocates Want to Preserve George Floyd Street Art – Institutions and organizations are working hard to conserve and preserve the street art and murals memorializing George Floyd. The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota has been asking people to photograph works of street art honoring Floyd and Black Lives Matter for its Urban Art Mapping project, for which it will create a George Floyd & Anti-Racist Street Art database. Meanwhile, other groups including Urban Mapping are asking for plywood with street art on it to be collected for posterity. (Pioneer Press)

Banksy Proposes a Replacement for the UK’s Colston Statue – As Black Lives Matter demonstrations swell outside of the United States, protesters in Bristol toppled a statue commemorating slave trader Edward Colston this past weekend and plunged it into the nearby river. Now, discussions have turned to what to put in its place. Banksy, for one, has an idea. Along with a sketch, he posted a suggestion on Instagram: “Here’s an idea that caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t,” he wrote. “We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated.” (Instagram)

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago Cuts Ties With City Police – The MCA Chicago is the latest art institution to sever its contracts with police, who are often hired off-duty to patrol museum events. After current and former members of the Teen Creative Agency, the museum’s youth development program, penned an open letter demanding that MCA cut ties with the Chicago Police Department and “acknowledge the systematic abuse of power and overt brutality exhibited by the police,” the museum agreed to stop contracting the CPD’s services until the department makes signifiant reforms. But the teen activists say there is more work to be done. (Hyperallergic)


Examining the Generation Gap in Online Art Buying – The 2019 Hiscox Online Art Trade Report found that 29 percent of surveyed collectors younger than 35 said they preferred the online buying experience to buying in person, while only 10 percent of those older than 60 said they preferred transacting digitally. This suggests that, while the art world remains under relative lockdown, the collecting audience may continue to skew younger. (New York Times)

KAWS Wants to Donate $250,000 to Black Lives Matter – The top-selling artist says an unspecified portion of all sales made today, June 9, on his website KAWSONE will go toward supporting Color of Change and Black Lives Matter. The goal is to raise $250,000. On offer is a new work, titled TAKE, alongside pieces from inventory and editions of his book KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS. (Complex)


Smithsonian Launches Race and Community Initiative – The Smithsonian has launched a new initiative to better understand how Americans see, experience, and confront race, and how it impacts communities and, by extension, the future of the country. The program, called “Race, Community and Our Shared Future,” is supported by a $25 million donation from Bank of America. The initiative follows another project, “Talking About Race,” launched last week by the National Museum of African American History and Culture. (Press release)

France Triples Its Aid for Artists – In response to criticism that it has offered too little support for the arts, the French culture ministry has tripled its emergency bailout fund for artists, to €1.5 million. The ministry is also doubling the funds allocated to its national center for visual arts, CNAP, to acquire work by France-based artists for French museums, to €1.2 million. (Journal des Arts)


The Scaffolding on Notre Dame Begins to Come Down – Yesterday, construction workers began removing the scaffolding around the burned Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, which caught fire in April last year. Conservationists and engineers have been shoring up the cathedral to make sure its vault will not collapse, and are now moving to the next phase of actually restoring the building. (Journal des Arts)

France Launches Open Call for Slavery Memorial – The French ministry of culture has launched an open call for designs for a work of art memorializing the victims of slavery to be installed in the Tuileries Garden. (The plan for the memorial has been in the works for some time, but the open call is a new strategy.) Applications are open through September 1, and the choice will be made in the first half of 2021, aimed at completing the work by the fall. (Press release)

Kids Design Covers for Italian Vogue – The latest issue of Vogue Italia is dedicated to children—and has given them the chance to become cover stars by asking them to design the cover. (This is, of course, also a very keen tactic at a time when photo shoots are essentially impossible to conduct.) See the eight quirky covers designed by kids between 2 and 10 years old below. (Vanity Fair)


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