Photo by Andrew Querner

The Sculpture Fund & The Internet of Value

Amy Nugent’s initiative The Sculpture Fund explores blockchain-based solutions for creating art acquisition funds for institutions. The tokenization of artworks or fractional ownership schemes for artwork purchase are two possibilities blockchains make possible. The knowledge developed through Nugent’s research will be made available to art organizations across Canada as a potential model for future collections management.

Leveraging advances in financial technology to meet gaps within the ecology of contemporary art, The Sculpture Fund (TSF) will explore the potential of a Blockchain-based economy to model an innovative new format for the collective ownership and leveraging of the investment value of artworks. Amy Nugent has been developing The Sculpture Fund’s research and planning as a 221A Fellow since early 2018.

The overall goal is to develop a social purpose investment fund within broader economies of value creation. TSF will use Blockchain technology to inspire and experiment with decentralized funding and explore ways of connecting and sharing value of artworks between the artist, institution, donors, investors and the public.

Two digital securities sales use-cases are being developed: working with an accomplished sculptor to develop a stacked Blockchain infrastructure for a land artwork, and working with a large institution to tokenize a portfolio within their collection – liberating the dead value locked-in and with that new revenue, creating equity. When these use-cases are sufficiently developed, TSF will look for opportunities to market test and scale the project at block-a-thons and with relevant research clusters at UBC and elsewhere. 

The dot-com and Web 2.0 phases of the internet have formed a tremendous network, connecting information from multiple sectors and players globally. The, horizontal space created has contributed to a redistribution of knowledge and in turn what this knowledge produces in the world. The blockchain economy will have a similar effect on the transfer of value, and allow for a redistribution of financial resources that have been hoarded by older generations and legacy institutions. This shift would enable TSF to leverage its work and resources to support artists at many levels within the ecology of art and culture. 

Concurrent with this research will be the development of TSF Advisory, the terms of reference for The Fund, and related decisions about partner institutions and foundations, and which tokenization and exchange systems to work with.  What does a social purchase fund look like using blockchain? What are the cultural and non-profit uses of blockchain? If a mechanism of liquidizing art without the transfer of ownership was properly developed, how would collecting institutions invest that money? This will be studied, as well as the tax and other incentives this new money and data system bring. The final research report can be used to attract and educate regulators (Canada Council, CRA, etc.), institutions and donors.

Amy Nugent is a Vancouver-based cultural worker and resource developer. As the former president of Artspeak’s board, she has been recognized with a 2016 Mayor’s Arts Award from the City of Vancouver. Currently, she is running the capital campaign for The Blue Cabin Floating Artist Residency. Her own research over the past five years has focused on the history and restitution of sculptors Frances Loring (1887–1968) and Florence Wyle (1881–1968), the current state of Canadian art collections and the limited acquisition funds to support them and carrying forward Loring and Wyle’s final wishes to establish a national charitable fund for Canadian sculptors.  

Amy Nugent is a 221A Research Fellow. More details about the development of The Sculpture Fund can be found here, and within the collections at Pollyanna 圖書館 Library