Why Diversity and Inclusion Is the Future of Art

The art world has a lot of cultural catching up to do in many areas.

Why Diversity and Inclusion Is the Future of Art, Dot Red
Photo Cred: ArtActivistBarbie
Long-overdue diversity and inclusion initiatives are driving a socio-cultural movement that is profoundly impacting the art world. More people than ever are paying close attention to who has a voice in every facet of our civilization—and why.

Increasingly growing public support for diversity and inclusion is making art—and everything else—more vibrant. Like many other parts of our society and economy, the art world has a lot of cultural catching up to do.

Art, in theory, is for everyone. Art is supposed to unite people. So, for the masses of different types of people to connect through art, the business of art must empower artists and artwork that resonates with a diversity of audiences.

What Is Inclusion and Equity In the Arts?

Many in the art world believe that inclusion and equity begins with providing a full range of demographics access to opportunities and spaces traditionally relegated to homogenous art institutions.

The idea of diversity and inclusion in the arts purports that an equal society depends on the adequate representation of artistic people of every background.

Art inclusion requires a universal cultural consciousness regarding race/ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, and religion. Art organizations, therefore, must implement leadership, learning, services, and transparent policies that deconstruct inequality to elevate diverse creative perspectives.

The Struggle of Diversity and Inclusion In Art Galleries and Museums

Ideally, the modern art world would have prioritized demonstrating more inclusion through art long ago. However, even today, galleries and museums have yet to make substantial progress in supporting diversity and inclusion through the paintings and artists they champion.


A recent study shows that of all the art in the top New York art galleries, 80% is by white artists, and 70% is by male artists.

For example, New York City is both a pillar of the art world and one of the most diverse cities in the United States. And yet, a recent study shows that of all the art in the top New York art galleries, 80% is by white artists, and 70% is by male artists. This may be related to the fact that men lead 28 of the 33 most significant museums in North America.

Women artists create 30% of pieces in top New York galleries, but make up less than 15% of the works included in all museum acquisitions and exhibitions—despite women accounting for up to two-thirds of art undergraduates. Showing ethnically diverse art and LGBTQIA art in galleries and museums is even rarer.

Insufficient Change

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MoMA) has experimented with emphasizing art by Latino, African American, and Asian artists and women—but these efforts reflect fleeting programming priorities. Underrepresented communities are long overdue to receive legitimate attention, but are still excluded from the valuable significance and permanence of the majority of prominent, culturally uniform exhibitions.

Lack of Demand

The failure to address how women and minorities are underrepresented in art organizations contributes to a self-perpetuating lack of demand from collectors. The commitment to diversity and inclusion at the global art auction market is discouraging, with African American art representing just 1.2% of auction sales and women’s art comprising 2% of global sales.

Galleries present the art they believe collectors want and value. Their myopic perception of collector demand, however, can support a disproportionate demand for pieces by culturally homogenous artists. Unsurprisingly, art buyers and collectors with minimum exposure to a broader spectrum of artists will confine their purchases to pieces from artists of limited demographics.

Why Diversity and Equity In the Arts Is Important

Deliberate and responsible art inclusion and equity could change the face of art galleries, museums, and auctions for the better.

Creativity and artistic expression are universal human experiences. So it is absurd that race/ethnicity, religion, sexuality, disability, age, and socioeconomic status play a role in artists’ opportunities to achieve recognition and success. Deliberate and responsible art inclusion and equity will improve the notoriety of art galleries, museums, and auctions in many ways:

Cultural Relevance

Inclusion through art is a missed opportunity that the art world must embrace for survival. The world is experiencing a powerful social equality movement that is passionately asserting its desire for arts and culture to mirror the breadth of diversity that exists across the global population.

The urgent need for diversity and equity in the arts will only grow moving forward. The arts continue to be at risk of alienating underrepresented communities, even though now more than half of Americans under five years old are minorities. The time is now to inspire younger generations by showing them art and artists they can relate to and celebrate.

Organizational Progress

Organizations benefit dramatically from having a rich variety of backgrounds and perspectives present in their events and operations. Diverse groups of people are scientifically proven to perform better at problem-solving and mitigating collective bias. Plus, companies with more inclusive workforces are 35% more likely to exceed the median level of financial success in their industry. So, why wouldn’t the same principles apply to art museums, galleries, and auction houses?

Generating Collector Demand

Deliberate and responsible art inclusion and equity could change the face of art galleries, museums, and auctions for the better.

Art that features diversity could help increase demand at auctions and in the art market for underrepresented artists and paintings. Gallery and museum curators who are educated in diversity and inclusion in the arts are uniquely positioned to make a difference by expanding the demand for different kinds of artists in the marketplace and at auctions.

Instituting inclusivity-focused leadership, education programs, and policies in museums and galleries is of critical importance to the future of the art business. Meaningful diversity and equity reform could potentially reshape the appeal of typically underappreciated artists. Meaningful changes open up more possibilities for diverse artists to participate and prosper in the art world—and help art institutions appreciate the multifaceted sensibility of a new generation of art lovers.

DotRed and the Future of Diversity In Art

DotRed is at the forefront of the innovative changes defining the future of art, including the inevitable diversification of the art world. Through our hybrid virtual art gallery experience, we strive to make creating, enjoying, and buying art accessible to all.