Earlier this month, art historian, Eddy Grattan-Bellew joined the team to guest host our Friday FedTalk (FedTalks – like TED talks, with a tasty twist. It’s a chance to get for us to get together, develop our skills, and share knowledge amongst the team). Eddy is currently raising funds and awareness for the world’s largest female and non-binary art festival, Every Woman Biennial.
Historically contemporary art has one thing in common: the predominance of male artists. Statistics show us how the art market overwhelmingly finds greater value in work produced by men. Only two works by women have ever broken into the top 100 auction sales for paintings. This highlights the lack of gender parity within the art world. Every Woman Biennial previously known as the ‘Whitney Houston Biennial’ aims to address this imbalance by exclusively showcasing and celebrating work by female and non-binary artists. By doing so they can empower artists giving them creative and financial opportunities.
Launched in 2014 by street artist and curator, C. Finely in response to the Whitney Museum of American Art’s lack of female participants in their ‘Whitney Biennial’ exhibition. Only 32 percent of the artists represented in 2014 were by female artists. The counter event ‘Whitney Houston Biennial: I’m Every Women’ led by C. Finely along with 86 other female artists aimed to balance the male-dominated art fair and museum circuit. Featured artists included Mickalene Thomas and the Guerrilla Girls. This event of art and performance celebrating women expanded into a two-week exhibition in 2017.
“Whether its vibrant large-scale murals, wallpapering dumpsters, or curating an all-female exhibition at the heart of C. Finley’s work lies a firm belief in the importance of community and connection as a practicing visual artist. Finley asked herself ‘what do I need? The answer was clear: community, encouragement, recognition, and opportunity. Then every woman biennial was born.”
Founder of Every Women Biennial C. Finely
Why is it important to bring this movement to the UK?
In the UK “64% of art students identify as female, but men make up 68% of the artists represented by UK galleries.” This shows us that from a young age people who identify as female and non-binary are not given the same opportunities that males are given. Galleries have a responsibility to correct these biases and prejudices that are built within the system. Furthermore just 13.7% of living artists represented by galleries in Europe and North America identify as female. Every Woman Biennial is helping to fix these issue by creating space for individuals that mainstream galleries have failed to create.
2021 plans and the challenge of Covid-19
Covid-19 has exacerbated financial inequalities and recent research suggests that across all industries women and non-binary people are the first to lose their jobs in pandemic climate. This is no different for the art market.
“Early indications point to that fact that emerging artists are leaving the trade, so not only are we losing funding and exhibition opportunities, but we may also lose 2-3 years of missed artists who identify as a female. This will be a huge loss for the creative and cultural landscape of the UK.” – Eddy Grattan-Bellew
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, Every Woman Biennial like many other non-profits have had to adapt and change their plans. They will be launching a street art festival in Soho this year which will exhibit the work of female artists in the streets, galleries, and online for maximum exposure. This will include an open floor invitation for artists of all ages to apply.
One of the many barriers to opportunities for emerging artists is the costly application fees for exhibition exposure. Plus, many artists find it unsustainable to sell their work as they lose a lot of their profit due to high commission costs. At Every Woman Biennial, they give their artists complete creative and financial control by waiving the application fee and only taking 30 percent commission which is to cover their running costs.
Every Woman Biennial is currently on the lookout for funding and partnership opportunities. So, if you would like to join and become part of the largest showcase and celebration of art by women and non-binary artists, head over to their website to learn more.