2024 Countess Report

Edited by Miranda Samuels and Shevaun Wright

The 2024 Countess Report is a major independent research project that will analyse and publish data on gender representation and related issues in the Australian visual arts sector. It forms part of Countess’s periodic collection and analysis of data, and will update and compare statistics from the prior Countess Reports (published 2019; 2016).

The Report will investigate how power and prestige is consolidated in the Australian visual arts sector by analysing recent trends in the representation of women and gender diverse artists across the industry. It will build on previous reports by expanding the purview of research and our methodology.

Findings from our previous two reports have been widely cited and circulated, and while we welcome the broad use of our research, we also understand that our findings in the form of aggregated data run the risk of oversimplifying complex historical and political dynamics affecting the industry. Put simply, the new report aims to build a clearer picture of the structures and frameworks that govern artistic production and legitimation in the Australian contemporary art world.

The Report will involve greater consideration of the influence of political-economic structures and frameworks like settler-colonialism on the constitution of artistic merit and legitimation in the Australian contemporary art world. It will do this by:

︎︎︎Expanding the remit of the report to involve greater discussion of factors such as the education and age of artists in conjunction with data on representation

︎︎︎Analysing patterns on the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists across the sector

︎︎︎Assessing the impact of gender equity focussed campaigns run by state art
institutions over the past four years by looking at data on issues such as
collection acquisition modes in addition to representational issues.

The Report is being co-authored by Miranda Samuels and Shevaun Wright. Informed by the expertise of a network of  artists, artworkers, writers and academics, as well as previous report authors Elvis Richardson and Amy Prcevich acting as project advisors.

2024 Countess Report to be launched in Feb 2024.

Join our mailing list for announcements ︎︎︎

2019 Countess Report

Edited by Amy Prcevich

In 2016, the first Countess Report revealed in detail that an imbalance of power existed in the Australian art world. Men held more positions at senior levels, and despite 75% of art school graduates being female, were significantly better represented across the sector. 

Skip forward to 2019, and our updated report chronicles key changes in the sector between 2014 and 2018.

Following wide community uptake of the 2016 report, the Countess spent two years engaging with the arts community through workshops and round-table discussions. During this period, we set out to better understand what and where gender conversations should be focussed, both now and in the future. Key issues and reported points of contention have informed our methodology and the writing of this report, notably in the inclusion of a Non-Binary gender category informed by Clear Expectations ︎︎︎READ HERE. While have attempted to respond to the community’s concerns as best we could with the resources available, we acknowledge there is important work to be done in better understanding the data within the broader context of race and class issues.

It is worth highlighting that since the 2019 report was released, discussions about gender representation in various sectors of the arts have worked their way into the mainstream. We believe this has renewed institutional interest in dealing with issues of gender inequity. Countess will continue to keep watch in the coming years to ensure this is not a passing trend.


The representation of women has significantly improved.

We counted over 13,000 artists across 184 institutions. This is undeniably a healthy sample size.

The category of non-binary artist was included for the first time. We now have a benchmark for non-binary representation within the sector.

We can report that:

︎︎︎71% of art school graduates are women.

︎︎︎There was an increase in the representation of women artists of between 10-20% across artist run spaces, commercial galleries,
contemporary art organisations, public galleries, major museums and university galleries.

︎︎︎State galleries and museums continue to significantly under-represent women in their collections and exhibitions.

︎︎︎In State galleries and museums the representation of women decreased from 36.9% to 33.9% from 2016 to 2019.

︎︎︎Non-binary artists were represented at 1-2% across the sector, with no non-binary artists recorded in curated state gallery exhibitions in 2018.

︎︎︎52% of art prize winners were women, with the top ten prizes (in dollar value) being a 50/50 split.

Access the full text here︎︎︎PDF 
black and white illustration titled "the pool of artists" depicting a large number of diverse people swimming in a circular pool

Artwork by ︎︎︎Sadie Chandler

2016 Countess Report

Edited by Elvis Richardson

This study has found that in 2014, female artists may be claiming new ground, and certainly that the number of women showing in Australian galleries is rising, but that the pool of male art graduates still have between three and four times the number of exhibition opportunities as the pool of female graduates.

The study established that women make up 74% of visual art graduates and 48% of exhibiting artists in ARI’s - the most gender equal of the gallery types. Both categories – art schools and ARIs – are open call.

A surprising and pleasing result was that the percentage of female artists showing in CAOs galleries rose from previous levels that were consistently below 40% to 45% in 2014. Art Prizes also took a turn for the better, awarding 56% of the prizes to women, though only 47% of the prize pool by value.

When we looked at prize data historically, the 2014 result indicated a recent and significant improvement, perhaps because women won three of the richest art prizes in 2016.

The analysed biennales and public galleries also achieved percentage representation of women in the mid to high 40s.

Access the full text here︎︎︎PDF