The right space for you will depend on what kind of gallery you envision yours to be — are you going for a hyper-contemporary, industrial vibe, where you may need more space for larger works like conceptual sculptures and installations, or are you more interested in a smaller space in a central location?It’s not just a question of ending up on high street — you need to decide what sort of space will actually work for your curatorial vision and the number of artists you wish to show at a time or represent.
In 2015, the arts and culture sector contributed over 763.6 billion dollars to the United States economy and generated 4.2% of the country’s GDP, with earnings in the sector totaling over 370 billion (pull that one out the next time someone says there’s no money in art).
But the art world’s ecosystem is a complicated one — many small galleries struggle to establish themselves both with artists and the public, whose references remain the oldest and most well-established galleries (Marian Goodman), auction companies (Sotheby’s), and museums (Mo MA) and the artists they represent.
In 2018, the days of all-male, all-white, or all-cis group shows are numbered and attract more and more negative attention and even outright hostility, even in respected institutions (see, for example, the open letter originally published in French paper about the programming at this year’s Rencontres d’Arles).
By keeping your programming and your artist roster young, fresh, and diverse, you not only appeal to a greater market segment (remember, people like art that speaks to them), you establish yourself as a progressive space (an important factor in a sector that values that new-new).
Have you always wanted to start an art gallery, but been unsure of how to break into the art market?
Here, we’ve round up the essential elements to consider if you’ve decided to start an art gallery, and advice on how to make your venture a durable success.When you start an art gallery without hundreds of thousands (or millions) in startup capital, you need to find other ways to generate interest in your gallery’s offer.One of the most important of these elements when you start an art gallery will be your space.Promote interest by making your gallery impossible to miss — not only in terms of your visuals, but because you make a statement with your programming and generate buzz.While small galleries can’t capitalize upon housing the works of art celebrities, they possess the potential “cool,” or alternative factor that differentiates them from the stuffiness of museums or white-cube spaces, which are often intimidating to people who feel they “don’t know anything about art” and are put-off by the academism of the high-end art world.It’s no easy task to start an art gallery, but the variety of rewards you’ll reap justifies the risk.The recession has taken its toll on some of the best retail locations in the country, and landlords are ready to grab any rental opportunity that will fill space and advance the demographic quality of a storefront area property.If you’re representing artists, you’re going to need to decide upon how you’re going to integrate that into your business model — will these artists become partners in the gallery, or will you establish an employment contract, or a contract to determine the commissions collected on their sold work?Many galleries will choose to function either as partnerships, non-profits, or Limited Liability Companies.If you can not only keep up with them, but get in front of the next wave, collectors will know that they can come to your space when they want to see and invest in what’s New.You got it: to start an art gallery, you’ll need to be an innovator in more ways than one.