Royal Academy’s Keeper Calls for Gender Quota

Eileen Cooper Photo: via Ladies Who ImpressEileen Cooper Photo: via Ladies Who Impress

Eileen Cooper, Keeper at London’s Royal Academy, has called for a quota to be introduced to ensure male and female artists are represented equally in public institutions, the Independent reports.

Elected in 2011, Cooper is the first female Keeper in the venerable institution, and is responsible of the RA’s art school. She was reacting to statistics showing that while 62 percent of art and design students are female, few make it to the professional art world.

Only a fifth of the current Royal Academicians are female, and only 21 percent of works by living artists purchased by Tate last year are by women artists.

“Unless you think that women make worse art, you must conclude that the art world fails female artists,” says Cooper. “Institutions, including the RA, should consider some type of quota, formal or informal.”

“Because women artists aren’t as widely collected by the museums they aren’t as widely known or promoted as much,” she continued. “It’s great when women fly, like Cornelia Parker and Tracey Emin, but there is still a lot to think about.”

The UK is not alone, of course. Recently, Micol Hebron hit the headline with her Gallery Tally project, in which she invited artists to create posters illustrating the male/female ratio in specific galleries.

“My worry,” concludes Cooper, “is that unless we challenge preconceptions today as strongly as possible, in 100 years’ time younger generations will look upon 21st-century art as a male pursuit, in the same way that we now regard earlier art.”

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