Jessica Amorim ︎

Image: Reproduction.  

How far is the art market in the world?

Let’s take a look at the statistics to confirm what we already knew: who used to lose keeps on losing.

To those who follow and/or survive off of the creative industry, has felt the pandemic pressuring this sector’s economy. In Brasil, COVID-19 was taken seriously in March, but back in February, the biggest art fair in China, the Gallery Weekend Beijing, had its 2020 edition canceled. Soon after, Art Basel, international for-profit art fair, also announced the cancellation of its fair in Hong Kong, which would take place in March this year.

And, unfortunately, that was the case to every other fair around the world. The closure of many museums and galleries, and speculations not so theoretical as to how art institutions would not survive the virus, have accelerated the online art market movement. In addition, after the first semester, there has been an urge on resuming face-to-face events as in for  maintaining these businesses.

After all, how is this business going? Studies by UNESCO and the International Council of Museums (ICOM), confirmed that more than 85,000 art institutions had to close their doors during this time of crisis, and that almost 13% of museums worldwide will never be able to reopen. Zooming in: every other profession related to museums, their operations and reach are seriously threatened with these closures or with the reduction of their revenues in the case of private museums. In other words, it is not going anywhere near good.

Still on the art market, the report “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Gallery Sector”, published by Art Basel and UBS, presents us some data on how the pandemic affected the global gallery sector in the first six months of 2020. According to the survey, written by art economist Clare McAndrew, gallery sales dropped 36% compared to the same period in 2019. Which mainly impacts the inequality of this market, since those who were already surviving before the pandemic, risk having to give up altogether, which may even lead to a reduction in the number of artists.

The report by ArtTactic, an art market research firm, analyzed the online auction sector and revealed that global sales increased 255% from January to August 2020 compared to 2019, mainly leveraging three auction houses in their online platforms. Despite this increase, it has not yet been possible to offset the $ 2.8 billion drop in overall sales.

As in this universe of capital, money is who dictate, all of these numbers alone may sound very alarming. But in addition, these analyzes point to a risk of further narrowing the right of access to art and culture. Just keep in mind that, naturally, all of this has a more significant impact on smaller and newer galleries, artists who were designing their careers, as well as several other professions that, even though they are invisible, support the base of the art market, such as molders, delivery people, etc.

Also in the study by UNESCO and ICOM, there are statements about the importance of the public and private sectors getting involved in raising funds for emergency aid and implementing public policies to protect institutions, professionals and self-employed workers in this sector. But is there still hope in these alternatives? Oh and don’t get me started about Brazil... or should I?