The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles had already sent out invites to their May gala when the presumptive honoree, artist Mark Grotjahn, announced he would no longer accept the award. The last three honorees were all straight, white male artists: Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, and John Baldessari. So in a move to encourage more diversity, Grotjahn — also a straight, white male artist — declined the prestigious MOCA honor.
While the art world is often seen as a bastion of progressive ideals, it suffers from a lack of diversity both on gallery walls as well as in boardrooms and backrooms. A 2014 study by the Association of Art Museum Directors found that women hold less than half of the art museum directorships, and when they do, they are paid significantly less than their male counterparts.
Micol Hebron launched “Gallery Tally” in 2013 which is a collaborative art project led by Hebron that tracks women’s representation in art galleries. After putting out a call for artists to illustrate the male-to-female ratios at commercial galleries, Gallery Tally was born. Not surprisingly, the numbers still weigh heavily in men’s favor, according to Hebron, with most gallery rosters averaging 70% male.
Artists aren’t the only ones calling for greater diversity. Policymakers are also starting to take notice. In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio took the unusual step of requiring New York’s cultural institutions to increase diversity among their staff and leadership or risk losing some of their city funding. Beginning this fall, the 33 museums and arts groups located on city property will submit diversity, inclusion, and equity plans in order to receive municipal funding.
Meanwhile, MOCA has said it will reconsider its plans for the gala and expects to make further announcements in a few weeks.
Read the full article about diversity in the art world by Marissa Gluck at GOOD.
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