On January 23rd, the Art Innovators Alliance held their first panel event entitled “Technology’s Impact on the Art Industry Today and Predictions for the Future” to a packed room at the venerable National Arts Club in New York City. Moderated by Natalia Kolodzei of the Kolodzei Foundation, the panelists included Bernadine Brocker Wieder, CEO and Co-Founder of Vastari, Adam Fields, CEO and Founder of ARTA, and Andrew Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of Artnet News.

The evening included a lively discussion around the adoption of current technology in the art world and what these leaders in technology predict for the future. An interesting mix of attendees included representatives from companies involved in art and technology such as Artsy, Artlogic and Collector Systems. Having so many experts in the audience, as well as on stage, meant in very interesting debates and discussions in the initial conversation and the subsequent Q&A.

The panel discussion started with the background to how each of the three companies have been involved in digitising the art world, in the order of each company’s founding date. Artnet, founded in 1989, is greatly known for its pricing database, but also increasingly through the popularity of its email-based editorial content known as artnet news. Andrew Goldstein’s experience also includes another early initiative for digitising the art world, called Artspace, a company selling art online was sold to Phaidon in 2014.

Bernadine Brocker Wieder described how Vastari was created from the desire to make more connections between collectors of art and museums for exhibitions. Adam Fields, who also worked at Artspace, described how his work selling art online exposed the inefficiencies in sending art using global logistics suppliers. He set up ARTA in 2014 to make it easier for art marketplaces, auction houses and galleries to get a number of quotes before deciding who to use to ship their art around the world.

As this discussion marked the beginnings of the Art Innovators Alliance, there were also questions about best practices, security online and issues with art market players embracing technology.

Natalia led the conversation in a variety of directions, weaving from questions more related to the interests for artists, to those related to galleries and museums. Looking at how the art world has evolved from the 90’s to today, the conversation then evolved into what we can expect in the future.

One of the points that resonated most during this panel discussion was the importance of engagement from collectors, galleries and artists. The feeling was that unless they are aware of the importance of technology and the security that these applications are providing, there is limited impact for innovation and technology.

Interestingly, the companies expressed less worry about upcoming competition and were more concerned about finding sustainable financial models that can help continue growth. They also notes that there seems to be a certain expectation from the industry to receive services for free, which makes it difficult for the companies that are providing the services to become sustainable. “Nothing in life is free” said Bernadine, “ so if you are getting services for free, then the company offering you the services may be selling your data.”

Raising awareness about these issues for the art world, and how innovation can be transformative in a positive way, is why the Art Innovators Alliance was founded. The Innovators will officially launch on 19 March 2019 with an industry panel discussion at Postmasters Gallery in NYC. Please book your tickets here.