Evan’s Corner: Report into the Australian art market and suggestions for reform

Written by: Evan Lowenstein
As part of Lowensteins’ commitment to the arts and improving the cultural climate of Australia, I have become involved with two senior academics from Melbourne University to put together an ARC Linkage project proposal for reform of the visual arts sector in Australia.
This proposal will take the form of research into the problems and issues faced by the art world in the contemporary climate of a generally uncaring Government.
The research will be conducted through the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Linkage Program. Lowensteins will be the project’s industry partners, joining Melbourne University with the express purpose of proposing a whole-of-government approach to improving the visual arts sector in Australia.
We intend to hold a seminar in early 2020. It will not be a mere ‘talk fest’, so we anticipate some likely and practical outcomes. Some of the topics that we intend to explore include but are not limited to the following:

Tax reform, including the issues of superannuation regulations being reformed along the lines of our earlier recommendations.

Artist income initiatives, including the possibility of some incentives similar to the instant asset write off for capital equipment, but specifically tailored to purchasing art.

Market expansion initiatives, including some scope for government assistance for export of artwork and holding commercial exhibitions overseas.

We will conduct our research by arranging industry workshops and art market conferences to establish issues and agendas with broad appeal to industry and government which will hopefully lead to a development of a substantial industry positioning paper. We will use the recommendations to lobby State and Federal governments for these reforms.
The academic project team consists of Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Christopher Marshall and other senior academics, Dr Anita Archer and Dr David Challis.
I will be an active participant in the group.
Being an ARC Linkage grant, we will be inviting other potential industry partners to join our group.
The Art Market Studies research unit at the University of Melbourne will also be involved in seeking partner organisations that are interested in creating sustainable structural changes to the Australian art market.
Hopefully, through this process we will have a lot of data to support the visual arts’ arguments for change.