Waging Culture 2017 Demographics 6: Gallery Representation and Secondary Market sales
A final dip into the pure demographics of the survey. In this installment, we’re looking at two markers within an artist’s career market-based career trajectory: gallery representation and secondary market sales.
In 2012, we saw a large decline in gallery representation, something we attributed to the 2008 economic crash and the subsequent jobless recovery. The thinking was that mid-level and smaller galleries were hit hardest, and they would have borne the brunt of the economic crisis. High end galleries, whose clientele were higher the foodchain, economically speaking, may have seen a decline in sales, but not so much that they would have had to close.
Waging Culture: Gallery representation
Well, the decline has solidified, with even fewer artists having regular gallery representation! This is not something we expected, and wonder how this will effect ongoing career trajectories for artists in Canada, especially seeing the advantage that a dealer has in keeping an artist’s CV growing, a factor in the new Canada Council granting requirements (admittedly, before the new funding model, healthy exhibition records would certainly have aided an artist in getting grants, but it wasn’t a solid requirement). This does suggest a research avenue that is not yet being followed, although direct research into gallery sales records would certainly be fraught, what with the general reluctance of gallerists to discuss their finances.
The question of secondary sales was not asked in previous iterations of Waging Culture, not even in the first survey which has an extensive list of career benchmarks. With CARFAC’s ongoing advocacy to introduce a resale right in Canada, though, we wondered if there might be some interest in the extent of the secondary market. It would, of course, take much more than the two questions we asked to get a full sense of the extent of the secondary market, but at least our questions presented a ballpark of sorts. According to the respondents to the survey, 31% of artists know that their work has sold on the secondary market (higher that the percent of artists currently represented by a gallery!) On the other hand, 12% of artists report that a work of theirs had been sold on the secondary market in the previous year. This amount is higher than we expected to find, to be honest, but we also surmise that it is lower than some were expecting.
These two factors together are obviously linked and so, despite not doing many cross tabulations in these introductory reports, we can note that 49% of artists currently represented by a gallery have at some point been sold in the secondary market, while 25% of artists not currently represented have been so. From the reverse angle, 43% of artists sold in the secondary market are currently represented by a gallery and 21% of artists not in the secondary market are repped.
This is one of a series of mini-reports on the results of the 2017 Waging Culture survey, a study of the socio-economic conditions faced by Canadian-resident professional visual artists. Supported by the Art Gallery of York University, it is an undertaking of Michael Maranda. This is the third iteration of the survey which was funded by a Supporting Artistic Practice project grant from the Canada Council. Comments and questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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