Department of Business Humanities and Law

Financial situation of the visual arts to be investigated

There is a need for knowledge about the living conditions for visual artists. In a new project, CBS researchers will therefore investigate the visual arts as a profession and its financial situation.


Trine Bille, Associate Professor at Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at CBS.
Photo: Bjarke MacCarthy

Front page photo: Shutterstock

What are visual artists' prospects of maintaining a reasonable living standard? What role does education, gender and age play in artists' prospects of making a living from their artwork? What is the demand for art, who buys it, and which new sales channels do artists use? These are some of the questions that a new research project on visual artists' financial conditions seeks to answer with support from Ny Carlsbergfondet, Bikubenfonden and Statens Kunstfonds Projektstøtteudvalg for Billedkunst (Danish Arts Foundation's Project Funding Committee for the Visual Arts).

This new knowledge about the market, earnings and entrepreneurship among Danish visual artists will form the basis for an understanding of the conditions for professional art and the visual arts as a profession.
The financial situation for the visual arts in Denmark has not been investigated sine 1998, and much has happened in the meantime, not least due to the increasing globalisation of the market. Thus, there is a need to document and investigate conditions today explains Trine Bille, Associate Professor with the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy at CBS, and one of the researchers behind the upcoming investigation:  
"The creative professions such as the visual arts – but also e.g. music and litterature – have different financial conditions than other professions. It's therefore interesting from both a research perspective and a political perspective to better document these conditions. Both cultural statistics and cultural finance research have been given low priority in Denmark, so it is impressive to see three foundations come together to finance this project."  
The project consists of two parts:
The first part asks among other questions: What is the market for the sale of visual art by living Danish artists like today? The artists' prospects of maintaining their profession with a reasonable living standard, i.e. the prospects of making a living from their art, depends on the demand for the artworks themselves. This is determined in part by the private market, i.e. the demand from private citizens and businesses, and in part by the public demand and also public regulation of the market. The extent of the total demand is determined by a number of factors, policies and incentives that can be influenced in various ways. This investigation will document the size and development of various parts of the market.
What are visual artists' financial living conditions in Denmark like?
The second part of the investigation will look into how much different types of artists earn - and will differentiate in terms of i.a. education, age and gender. It will also investigate how earnings are distributed between activities related to the visual arts profession, including the work with artistic processes which are not related to the sale of works, work that is not related to the visual arts profession, and other earnings e.g. transfer income. And it will investigate which types of buyers the visual artists' earnings come from, and which sales channels visual artists use.
Anette Østerby, Head of Division at Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen (the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces), says: "It is really remarkable that we have launched this investigation with two private foundations. We very much need knowledge and documentation in the visual arts area."
She is supported by Karsten Ohrt, Chairman of Ny Carlsbergfondet: "The report in 1998 gave a solid basic knowledge for the Visual Arts Act that was passed in 2003. We have a significant need of updated knowledge on the general conditions for the visual arts today."
Søren Kaare-Andersen, Director of Bikubenfonden, says: "We take a great interest in supporting i.a. talent development in the visual arts field, and this investigation will provide new knowledge on artists' financial conditions."
The investigation will run until summer 2018 when the results will be published.
Read an interview (in Danish) with Trine Bille about the project in the newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad.
Further information:
Trine Bille, Associate Professor, PhD, Copenhagen Business School, and project manager for the investigation:, tel. 38152548
Karsten Ohrt and Tom Hermansen, Ny Carlsbergfondet,, tel. 24813185
Søren Kaare-Andersen, Bikubenfonden, please contact: Iben Haugaard,, tel. 26220926
Anette Østerby, Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen,, tel. 33744550
Gitte Ørskou, Statens Kunstfond,, tel. 31994101

The page was last edited by: Communications // 12/17/2017