Event: The exceptional economy of the arts – Cultural capital in capitals
5 Mar 2015

Panel discussion: Cultural capital in capitals, finding new room for art and for artists in our accelerating property market.

Thu 5 March 2015, 18:30–20:30

The White Building
Unit 7 Queen’s Yard,
White Post Lane, Hackney Wick
London, E9 5EN

Tickets £5, booking is required: book here.

Previous talks in the series are now available on the SPACE SoundCloud. You can listen to them using the links below:

The Artists’ Voice – Writing and being written about in contemporary art practice

Art Collections, Art Markets and the balance of power

What makes art publishing any good?


How do we cope with the property boom which is forcing studios and project spaces further and further out from the main city centres?

As everything gets privatised, including education, are there ways that artist run organisations can meet the demand/ fill the gaps in the social contract? Social enterprise and cultural capital are becoming repeated phrases – the last of these being recently cited by Bank of England Director Mark Carney as vital to our future – How are projects in education, artist run schools and experimental workshops, going to be part of a future in cities? How will such projects work as a sustainable means of generating income and employment?

Planning policy (particularly the effect of Eric Pickles planning reforms on London) is responsible for the homogenisation of our big cities. How can artists’ organisations counteract the negative impact of this process on affordability and access to space?

How do artists and arts administrators build collaborative links with planners and or developers? Should they?

Is it possible to rebuild a social contract in ways whereby the production of visual art, studio accommodation and fluid growth of project spaces are valued by society’s decision makers?

Should we make friends with architects or are they invariably in thrall to the developers?

Empty shops and commercial properties are often offered to artists on short leases to brighten up a depressed area. How should art groups form and develop to exploit these opportunities well? Or should they? Or is there a way to make such projects more permanent?

We will look at these and many more questions with a panel of experts.


Andrew Bick (chair) – Artist

David Bickle – Partner Hawkins/ Brown Architects

Kate Cooper – Artist and Co-Founder, AUTO ITALIA SOUTH EAST

David Cotterrell – Artist and SPACE Trustee

Anna Harding – Chief Executive – SPACE


The Exceptional Economy of the Arts[1]:

a series of discussion panels.

Following on from a successful evening discussing the international art market with a group of contemporary gallerists during Frieze Week, New Creative Markets has organised a series of panel discussions where a range of ways in which artists can engage with the art world now will be examined through a range of different opinions and experiences. New fields of activity available since the advent of the web, traditional forms of practice in the current context, research as a source for art making and new and developing means of distribution, will be considered along with the way these have also been modified by the pressures to address contemporary social and market forces.

Hans Abbing’s 2002 book, which the title of this series is borrowed from, took case studies from his native Holland to make a socioeconomic analysis of what motivates artists and art consumers. It provides an interesting, if limited model, for analyzing what he correctly calls the “exceptional” way the art world operates. Based on the way that most individuals working in the art world accept poorer conditions and lower pay than in their equivalent work environments elsewhere in developed economies, Abbing suggested that it is the “otherness” of art, its abstract and quasi religious values, that reinforce a limited economic status quo in which most of its operatives work for less than they are worth… Elsewhere, the auction houses and über galleries of London and New York are creating hyper prices for a narrow group of artists. Short-term collectors have began the process of “flipping” high value art early in an artists’ career, without considering the longer term stability of the market for that artist…

This discussion series will pose questions to a broader section of those working in the contemporary art world in the UK and beyond in order to generate wide-ranging discussion and throw up some new ideas as to how we might address the rapidly changing cultural landscape.

[1]Title taken from the book by Hans Abbing “Why are artists poor?: The Exceptional Economy of the Arts”, 2002, Amsterdam University Press