Inspired by The Society of Women Artists’ Summer Exhibition and in response to the recently launched £100,000 Freelands Award, we invited some expert speakers in the field to join us for a panel discussion exploring the continued relevance of Women-only art exhibitions and competitions.

The Speakers included Sue Jelley, President of the Society of Women Artists, an organisation founded over 160 years ago when there were very limited opportunities for women to exhibit their work; Melanie Cassoff, Managing Director of the Freelands Foundation, who launched the new Freelands Award in response to a report they commissioned on the mid-career opportunities for women artists and Eliza Gluckman, Curator of the New Hall Art Collection, a collection housed at the Murray Edwards College, which itself was founded to allow women to attend Cambridge University and independent curator working on projects including 'A Woman’s Place'. The Debate was Chaired by Susan Mumford, the founder of the Association of Women Art Dealers and Be Smart About Art, organisations which offer professional support and mentoring to both artists and art dealers.

The panel found that while there have been huge strides in improving women’s access to arts education and exhibition over the 160 years since the founding of the Society of Women Artists, and since the founding of the New Hall Art Collection in the 1980s, there is much room for improvement. They concluded that by working together the gender gap can be closed still further. 

You can listen to a recording of the talk, which took place at Mall Galleries on 3 August 2016, here: