Things to consider for Galleries when thinking, booking, and attending Art Fairs.
With more and more art fairs returning in 2022 and new ones appearing on an almost monthly basis, questions about art fair goals and their benefits are coming back to the forefront and warrant analysis and further discussion. For collectors and art enthusiasts the re-emergence of art fairs is a welcome reprieve from the last two years. For galleries on the other hand, it brings back an expensive proposition. Galleries are fraught
with deciding to attend Art Fairs and potentially paying tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for the chance to highlight their roster of artists and sell the artworks they curate or forego the expense of attending some or all art fairs all together and continue to leverage their existing presence and network of collectors and patrons.
For larger galleries with deep coffers, the decision can be less daunting yet for small to mid-size galleries things are far more challenging. As we help galleries vet and weigh the implications of attending or foregoing art fairs in 2022, we thought it would be a good time to highlight a few things all galleries large and small need to keep in mind when deciding on attending art fairs.
Determine the end goal:
Whether you are a private owner or have a group of partners, decide on the end goals of attending one or multiple art fairs. Is it to build connections, to drive incremental sales, gain recognition or notoriety, treat your roster of collectors to a beautiful night no matter what the driver is, be honest with yourself or selves in the decision-making process weigh up your options and think outside the box.
Research the Art Fair:
Everyone in the industry has their favorite fairs they love to attend, whether it’s the blue chip or cutting edge art that will be exhibited, the innovation, the space, or the VIP parties. No matter how much one loves an art fair every gallery will benefit from making an in-depth assessment of the potential benefits of having a show at a certain fair, including the art fairs your gallery has regularly attended. Not all art fairs are for every gallery so do some research, knowing what type of collectors an Art fair attracts is imperative information especially when your main goal is to sell art. Visit the art fairs of interest, talk to other galleries, artists or a hire a consultant to help you with the process.
"attendance records are sure to balloon in 2022 as there is immense pent-up demand from art enthusiast and collectors." – Art Business Consulting
Run the numbers:
The basic advice, sum up all relative expenses, booth space, shipping, insurance, staffing, booth design, art installation, travel, meals, event hosting, and even PR, yes just because you have a booth at an art fair doesn’t mean your gallery will automatically be highlighted or promoted. Our Pro tip, put a realistic value to art fair spaces, and calculate the event ROI (Return on Investment). One would think art fairs would be transparent about their average ROI, but they are not so its up to you to run the numbers to find out. If you have historical art fair revenues the calculation is fairly simple, if not you might need to enlist a specialist to evaluate art fairs your organization is interested in attending and how they would support your sales potential and ultimately your bottom line profit.
Know your worth:
For galleries big or small knowing the potential of your collection and artists is a key factor in deciding your art fair strategy. Whether you have curated, high-quality works or you are trailblazing new innovating thought provoking works that are sure to turn heads or have a roster of collectors in your pocket already to make a purchase. Knowing your worth leads us to one of our next tactics.
Yes, negotiate! Now, we know some of your more popular art fairs are invitation only, have applications, waitlist and even a selection process. But that doesn't mean they are unwilling to negotiate so don’t let that stop you from asking for favorable terms, either in booth space, location, marketing or discounts. Don't forget having solid galleries in attendance, exhibiting amazing works of art, innovative art, and foremost collectors and investors looking to spend is in the art fairs best interest. Some art fairs are also going as far as looking into how they can be more inclusive of new and smaller galleries.
Overall, every gallery needs to be aware that historically, having a booth at an art fair, has never guaranteed sales, or ensured a breakeven position just from attending. Every gallery needs to evaluate art fairs like one would consider any other investment. One thing is certain as more art fairs come back they will be touting their attendance records, because attendance records are sure to balloon in 2022 as there is immense pent-up demand from art enthusiast and collectors. Whether art sales will follow suit will be the real test for Art Fairs in 2022, if not it could lead to an art fair reckoning or, and more preferably, a great success and reflection of the wealth and volume of new collectors entering the art world's collecting stage.
Written by, Art Business Consulting, LLC. A group of Art Industry Experts dedicated to providing art organizations with specialty guidance and strategic implementation of tactics, from Art Business operations to management and recruitment, supporting and delivering growth.