Having closed a $9.7 million seed round, Tom McLeod unveiled Arkive, a museum whose collection and curation — and potentially, physical location — rests in the hands of its members. This “down-up” model will determine the culturally significant items that will enter the museum’s collection, effectively empowering its community with a voice and a vote. “This is an opportunity right now when the world is flattening,” says the Founder of Arkive, “when people are focused on placing things in positions of maximum impact and utilizing the power of the internet and blockchain.”
Let’s face it: the art market, as it is, isn’t the most welcoming of environments. Even past the high financial barrier to entry, the air of stuffy exclusiveness makes the $65-billion sector downright opaque to anyone without access to insider knowledge or an art advisor. This, to Jordan Huelskamp, represents a loss for art commerce at large. “Any industry operating on this level of exclusion is limiting its overall potential,” she tells Jing Culture & Crypto. “The market’s elitism is actually backfiring by limiting the amount of art made, bought, and sold.”
A new book from Torque editions, Radical Friends — Decentralized Autonomous Organizations and the Arts, has consolidated eight years of research into a toolkit for radical care and connectivity in the art industry. Compiling essays, interviews, exercises and prototypes, the book has birthed “several of its own prototype artworld DAOs,” and has developed a “new vocabulary to talk with and about the multitude of artworld DAOs.”
Popularity aside, many DAOs are already operating as effective mechanisms for change and advocacy, overlapping with and pushing the traditional boundaries of the cultural sector. Groups like Ukraine DAO and PleasrDAO have produced millions of dollars for social change by selling and buying NFTs. Other groups work to create more inclusive and equitable Web3 spaces, seeking to empower emerging creators by collecting, sharing, and investing in their art.
“What is the future of the internet?” is a question that, under the glare of Web3, holds promise and opportunity as much as pitfalls and complexity. It’s also an inquiry that Meta Open Arts is hoping to probe with the help of the artists and creative technologists that are forging that future. Hence its newly minted Next Web Seed Grant, a program established alongside NEW INC, New Museum’s innovation incubator.