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Art market: Predictions for 2021 – Financial Times

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If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that there is no such thing as a predictable year. But as we all try to make sense of a changed world here is a stab at how the art market’s slowdown in sales, drought of fairs and mass move online will play out over the next 12 months.

Art market sales in 2020 look to have fallen by at least a third across the industry, with galleries bearing the brunt. The key to 2021 will be whether art fairs bounce back. In 2019 these high-octane, temporary events accounted for an average 45 per cent of gallery sales. Come 2020, they were decimated.

Predicting when these global gatherings will come back is a Sisyphean task — they seem permanently to be about six months away. Some, such as Art Dubai, are sticking to their knitting and plan to open in their usual March slot. The more popular timing for a return comes a bit later in the spring, with the postponed Art Basel Hong Kong and Tefaf Maastricht kicking off the calendar in May.

Both fair organisers offered digital alternatives in 2020 with online viewing rooms, but it seems telling that this isn’t the preferred route going into the new year. While these vastly improved websites will continue to support such events and were better than nothing in 2020, they have run their course in their current forms.

Frieze Los Angeles’s VIP opening in February © Casey Kelbaugh

The question is whether springtime is too soon for a full-scale fair — and my prediction is that it is. How and when vaccines are rolled out is still unclear and it seems unlikely to me that we will all be jumping on planes once a week again by then, if ever. There’s a valid view that fairs simply won’t come back the way they were, having already proved too time-consuming and costly for many even before the pandemic. As in other industries, most of the art market has been working from home, or at least from our hometowns, and we’ve found alternative ways of doing business.

Collectors say that the time not rushing around has helped them deepen their knowledge of art and appreciate it more when they do see works in-person, while gallerists have had the headspace to think more strategically about their businesses and the shows they want to put on. And we’ve all helped the planet to boot.

But dealers need to sell art and living artists in particular need them to do so too. Fair organisers who have realised that there is an area between the two poles of a large-scale event and a website are on to something. In 2020, fairs such as Copenhagen’s Chart and Nada Miami experimented with a multi-venue approach, under the umbrella of their brands. These are still temporary shows, so can generate excitement and the possibility of affiliated events, but are hosted through the individual galleries in their respective cities.

Fairs that are already committed to this format in 2021 include the Brafa fair for pre-contemporary art, which is normally held in Brussels but this year has its 126 exhibitors show individually in 37 cities (previews from January 27). Its website will be a back-up resource with all the works on offer in one place. Frieze Los Angeles plans a similar approach in July when it will spread galleries through architecturally significant buildings — though the logistics of getting around LA in high summer might make this a harder sell.

Artwork by Sif Itona Westerberg at Gether Contemporary in Denmark © Niklas Vindelev

On the local level, it will become difficult to differentiate between such events and the existing gallery weekends or art weeks, but boundaries have been blurring for some time across all areas of the art market and it will be a case of survival of the fittest. The fairs will just have to prove that their brands, networks and organisational strengths are additive — which at this stage seems plausible.

Auction houses seemed to adapt more readily to virtual business in 2020, but their management also acknowledge that it is the real-life, event-based sales that really bring in the goods. I would expect many more auctions to be conducted online and via the new livestream technology than in 2019 — not least because management has invested considerably in some high-tech solutions. But where possible, and certainly for the higher-value items, the auction houses will try to bring back the in-person excitement. “We don’t want a future where everything in the art market goes online,” says Guillaume Cerutti, chief executive of Christie’s.

Activity-wise, optimists say supply will return, partly because discretionary sellers have been sitting on their hands for the best part of a year already — though pessimists are concerned that there will be more forced sellers, pushing values down and undermining market confidence.

The opening of Frieze Los Angeles in Paramount Pictures Studios, Hollywood © Casey Kelbaugh

Some decent consignments are already in the bag, mind — Christie’s has three major surrealist paintings to offer in March with a combined estimate of £32m. Plus, if we put the thorny issue of Brexit and its many unknowns to one side, global political uncertainties that impact the art market are generally reduced in 2021, now that the divisive US election has almost concluded.

Cerutti notes that the forced move online has brought in a new generation of buyers. At time of writing, Christie’s reported that 40 per cent of its buyers had come on stream since March 2020, of which 32 per cent were millennials. Buyers in Asia have proved particularly active and here, too, it’s about a younger generation, buying between $50,000 and $500,000.

Most of these have come to the art market via luxury goods, says Ben Clark of the art adviser Gurr Johns, another area that will continue to expand into the fine art world. To my mind, the stumbling block in Asia remains China’s increasing crackdown on freedoms, including now in Hong Kong, though on this front I would expect the art market to continue to turn a blind eye in the short term.

There has been considerable noise about art market disruption forced by the pandemic. Hopefully, some of the more inventive collaborations will continue. Initiatives such as augmented and virtual realities will keep testing appetites, while existing non-industry platforms such as Instagram will keep discovery alive.

There are some good ideas on the slate — including a fair-plus-auction event through a new platform called South South — but it will be a while before any feelgood factor really takes hold. This will prove more a year of rehabilitation than rip-roaring recovery.

Listen to our podcast, Culture Call, where FT editors and special guests discuss life and art in the time of coronavirus. Subscribe on AppleSpotify, or wherever you listen

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Visit the city's tiniest art gallery: Five things to do in Saskatoon this weekend – Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E.

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Whether you’re interested in art, a virtual party, some outdoor activities or cleaning up around the house, there’s a little bit of something for everyone this weekend in Saskatoon.

1. Visit the Free Little Art Gallery

In an effort to help Saskatoon residents share art with one another, Suzy Schwanke has created the Free Little Art Gallery YXE outside her home at 332 Hilliard St. E. Designed in the style of community libraries and kitchen boxes, visitors to the gallery can take a piece of art, leave a piece of art, or do both. You can check out some of the artwork on Instagram @Freelittleartgalleryyxe.

Art teacher Suzy Schwanke is hoping to bring “a little joy to the community” by installing a tiny art gallery on her front lawn in Saskatoon’s Queen Elizabeth neighbourhood.
Art teacher Suzy Schwanke is hoping to bring “a little joy to the community” by installing a tiny art gallery on her front lawn in Saskatoon’s Queen Elizabeth neighbourhood. Photo by Matt Smith /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

2. Hit up The Bassment’s virtual party

Featuring the music and talents of eight Saskatoon bands, The Bassment presents InTune 2021 — a free online party playing from 2 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The shows will be streamed live through the Bassment’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

3. Check out local performers

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Watch as some of Saskatoon’s performing artists share their work in Episode 1 of Persephone Theatre’s Open Stage, which was published earlier this month. The episode is available to watch whenever you want at persephonetheatre.org and features Peace Akintade, Kathie Cram, Amanda Trapp, Sketchy Bandits, Carla Orosz and Ellen Froese.

4. Have some family fun

The Fuddruckers Family Fun Centre (2910 8th St. E) is open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday, weather permitting. Families can practice their skills on the 18-hole Putt N’ Bounce miniature golf course, reach new heights on The Rock climbing wall or take a swing at the Grand Slam batting cages. More information is available at fudds.ca or by calling 306-477-0808.

5. Drop off your hazardous waste

The City of Saskatoon is holding its first Hazardous Household Waste Drop Off of the year on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Civic Operations Centre (57 Valley Rd.). The drop off is open to Saskatoon residents from residential properties only. Products eligible for drop off include aerosols, automotive fluids, batteries, cleaners, light bulbs, yard chemicals and more. Learn more at saskatoon.ca/hazardouswaste.

  1. Art teacher Suzy Schwanke is hoping to bring

    Little art gallery brings colour, connection to Queen Elizabeth neighbourhood

  2. Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon

    Persephone Theatre brings in community co-leads for new Artists’ Working Group

The news seems to be flying at us faster all the time. From COVID-19 updates to politics and crime and everything in between, it can be hard to keep up. With that in mind, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has created an Afternoon Headlines newsletter that can be delivered daily to your inbox to help make sure you are up to date with the most vital news of the day. Click here to subscribe.

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YK ARCC celebrates 10 years by pushing for NWT art gallery – Cabin Radio

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Its trailer doubles as one of the NWT’s only art galleries. Now, the Yellowknife Artist-Run Community Centre is turning 10 years old.

The group, YK ARCC for short, formed in 2011 in a downtown Yellowknife church scheduled for demolition. “There was always something going on,” recalled Métis artist Rosalind Mercredi, owner of the city’s Down to Earth Gallery, who was YK ARCC’s first president.

“I think it was so good to be able to have a space where people wanted to work on stuff and, if they had bigger projects they wanted to do, there was a space to do it. It was pretty vibrant times, I would say, for art.”

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Though the organization stayed in the church for less than a year, it has brought art and shows to Yellowknife since. Temporary homes have included an apartment above a Vietnamese restaurant and empty spaces in the Centre Square Mall.

Casey Koyczan, a Tłı̨chǫ artist from Yellowknife pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Manitoba, held some of his first shows with YK ARCC’s help.

“It really helped to be able to show work within an environment that was conducive to more of a fine arts aesthetic as opposed to … a coffee shop, or a pub, or something like that,” said Koyczan, who was on YK ARCC’s board.

“YK ARCC felt like it was getting to more of a formal-exhibit kind of feel.”

‘We need a territorial gallery’

The group made headlines shortly after opening a mobile art gallery in a trailer. At the beginning of the pandemic, the team took art to residents by accepting reservations through Facebook then driving the gallery to make house calls in different neighbourhoods.

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“Because it’s so small, we might be the only gallery in Canada that didn’t have to close,” said longtime board member Sarah Swan. “It has a limited capacity. We knew we could still operate it safely.”

YK ARCC’s first home is pictured in 2011. Photo: Submitted
Casey Koyczan stands in front of a painting at a YK ARCC show in 2014. Photo: Submitted

Yet the trailer’s success simultaneously illuminated what YK ARCC’s members believe is a glaring deficiency in the NWT: the absence of a territorial gallery.

The cost of rent makes it difficult for the non-profit to hold on to one space for any length of time. Many of the spaces that are available in Yellowknife don’t work well for art shows.

“We need a territorial gallery,” former board member Dan Korver said.

That doesn’t mean a commercial gallery geared toward profit, he clarified. Instead, Korver wants a space where artists can show their work and engage with an audience “for art’s sake.”

The Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is the only large-scale, non-commercial, gallery fitting that bill in the NWT. It hosts two fine art exhibits a year.

“It’s just simply not enough,” said Swan. “There are so many more artists and so much more work out there to show, so many more ideas.”

“We created the mobile gallery in the first place to feel that exhibition gap, but also, we created it to be a piece of agitation in itself. That’s why we called it the Art Gallery of the Northwest Territories.

“It’s really pathetic that our territorial gallery is a trailer. We all joke that if there ever is a real gallery of the Northwest Territories that’s not in a trailer, we’ll happily give the name back.”

YK ARCC debuted its mobile gallery in the summer of 2019. Pictured are board member Brian McCutcheon and artist Terry Pamplin. Photo: Submitted
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Art by Shelley Vanderbyl is displayed in Yellowknife’s mobile gallery in May 2020. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
A YK ARCC show in 2018, called Social Fabric, was held inside a former bank in the Centre Square Mall. Thirty-two artists were featured and 800 people attended. Photo: Submitted

Koyczan described obstacles in establishing his career that stemmed directly from the lack of a territorial art gallery.

“Back when I was showing at YK ARCC, it wasn’t recognized by the Canada Arts Council,” he said. “Therefore, when you go to apply for grants and funding … and you provide your CV saying that you showed work at YK ARCC, they check their records and say the show basically didn’t exist because they don’t recognize it as a legitimate gallery.

“I’ve had to work really hard on exporting myself and making artwork that is impactful so that, regardless of where I was located, it would be recognized by people in the south, or around North America, or internationally.

“The NWT needs a contemporary gallery. It’s just holding us back, not having that space.”

‘No GNWT mandate’ for a gallery

In a written statement to Cabin Radio, the territorial Department of Education, Culture, and Employment said it has no plan to create a territorial gallery.

The department said it “does not have a mandate to create physical infrastructure for the arts.”

“However,” the response continued, “the GNWT would be happy to work with regional organizations to see how the GNWT can support their plans.”

Korver believes government involvement in creating an artist-run centre or non-commercial gallery should be limited to provision of funding, so any gallery can remain community-driven and independent.

“We need that physical space, but how do you run it?” he wondered. “Is it better to just provide a grassroots organization – or organizations, maybe there shouldn’t just be one – with stable funding so they can provide those spaces and run those spaces?”

More spaces that can host art are on the way.

Makerspace YK moved into the old After 8 pub this January and is planning workshops and exhibits. The City of Yellowknife expects to open a visitor centre in the Centre Square Mall that would include art displays.

Meanwhile, the territorial government is set to release its updated NWT Arts Strategy this June. The previous territorial arts strategy, released in 2004, had identified a need for more arts spaces.

As a gallery owner, Mercredi said she is curious to see how the strategy is implemented.

YK ARCC staged an outdoor installation in 2017. Photo: Submitted
Rosalind Mercredi, first president of YK ARCC, at the mobile gallery. Photo: Submitted

“You can make a strategy but if the plan doesn’t have an implementation idea behind it, then really just sits,” she said. “How do you implement it when most of the arts organizations don’t have enough infrastructure or people to put those things together?”

Swan said YK ARCC will continue to run its mobile gallery while celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Members have applied for funding to run a series of “emerging curator workshops.”

“Art is our passion,” Swan said. “I think there’s just this drive to share.

“Because we know how good art can be, or how amazing and fully developed it can be, we want to fight for that. We want to try to grow the art community in Yellowknife.”

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