3 art innovators share intriguing business models at first ArtInsight seminar

ART EVENTS LONDON ARTS MANAGEMENT GLOBAL ART MARKET

On 25 January, an ArtInsight-organised seminar brought together the experiences of three innovators in the art business: Sigrid Wilkinson, Julie Lomax and Joe La Placa. Though the seminar did not focus on Asia exclusively, the intricately connected nature of today’s art world means the latest professional advice on trends in the global marketplace hold import for the region.

Click here for more information on ArtInsight’s Global Art Market Series: 2011 (PDF download).

Installation view, "The Age of the Marvellous", Vanitas, 2010. Image courtesy All Visual Arts.

Installation view, "The Age of the Marvellous", Vanitas, 2010. Image courtesy All Visual Arts.

So what were the juiciest titbits each art professional parted with? Art Radar brings you what was said:

  • Wilkinson (Arts Co) on the key qualities of a young entrepreneur and why innovation in art business matters in today’s climate;
  • Lomax (Arts Council England) on the importance of public funding and the challenges facing the arts sector in big cities like London;
  • La Placa (All Visual Arts) on how to identify great art and why art is important to human development.

Sigrid Wilkinson: Facilitator for all parties

Isabella Macperhson and Sigrid Wilkinson of Arts Co. Image from wallpaper.com.

Isabella Macperhson and Sigrid Wilkinson of Arts Co. Image from wallpaper.com.

The first speaker was Sigrid Wilkinson, Co-Founder and Director of Arts Co, “a unique provider of solutions across the arts,” which develops and curates art and designs exhibitions, arts projects, cultural marketing strategies and events.

During her talk, Wilkinson emphasised the positive side of downturn; the economic recession has prompted all parties in the art world to become more innovative. Arts Co belongs to a new wave of such art businesses, operating across many fields in an effort to “forge creative partnerships.” Its clients range from high net-worth individuals, family foundations, brands, corporations and artists to non-profit art organisations.

Regarding this change in the art industry, Wilkinson noted that:

The way we talk to clients has changed. What they would like to create through arts partnership is more than products and services, rather, it is about creating an immersive experience, emotion and passion.

The four core values Arts Co highlights in their clients projects are: authority, altruism, belonging, and championing; often two or three values can be collectively seen in one project. The measurement of this more abstract impact can be seen through the likes of the ‘Thought Leadership Index’.

Contemporary Row, a collective of independent art spaces. Image courtesy of Arts Co.

Contemporary Row, a collective of independent art spaces. Image courtesy of Arts Co.

An example of the kinds of projects Arts Co undertakes is their work with Omega, the official timekeeper for the 2012 Olympic Games, whom they are helping to stage a series of cultural activities in the two-year lead-up to the Games. A recent event in an artist-designed salon created a sense of intimacy for VIP guests, who could also have their portraits done by an on-site artist.

On the other end of their client profile, Arts Co initiated Contemporary Row, an umbrella collective of pioneering art spaces that act as incubators for emerging talent. With the project, Arts Co aspires to market the collective strength of individual institutions. Because of their small size, direct and personal relationships are possible, and these are leveraged by Arts Co to help these spaces develop sustainable programmes.

To bring art and environmental issues together, an art-eco-fashion brand ISSI was created. ISSI collaborates with artists to explore the uses of common waste materials such as used fire-hose, both in design and manufacturing. Click here to view the latest ISSI collection.

Lothar Götz-designed bowling bag, made with decommissioned red, yellow and ultra-rare blue fire-hose. Image courtesy Arts Co.

Lothar Götz-designed bowling bag, made with decommissioned red, yellow and ultra-rare blue fire-hose. Image courtesy Arts Co.

Wilkinson concluded that:

Arts Co does not have a linear business model; we serve as a translator for different parties in the arts. If there is one lesson to share, it is ‘get out there and do it.’ If what you would like to do doesn’t exist yet, just create it.

If channelled in the right way, art can add value to everything – business, personal image, brands, even a country’s ‘soft power’. For aspiring art business entrepreneurs, the key, it seems, is simply “to start.” When Wilkinson was asked in a later Q&A session, “What are the key qualities a young entrepreneur needs to have to be successful?” she responded that having charisma and being well-connected, talented and passionate was the answer. And how do you become “well-connected?” Wilkinson hinted that, “one just needs to start from the one or two key contacts you have.”

Julie Lomax: Creating public and commercial partnership

Julie Lomax, Director of Visual Arts, Arts Council England (ACE), was the second speaker. ACE is the national development agency for the arts, which supports a range of artistic activities from theatre to music, literature to dance, and the visual arts.

Between 2008 and 2011, ACE will have invested in excess of £1.6 billion of public money. Within visual arts, the regularly-funded organisations range from large-scale institutions such as the Whitechapel Gallery, to incubator spaces like Matt’s Gallery. In addition, the visual arts team is also encouraged to spot talent, help develop individual artists, and build partnerships across the public and commercial sectors.

House of Voltaire installation view. Image courtesy Studio Voltaire.

House of Voltaire installation view. Image courtesy Studio Voltaire.

London is a destination city for visual arts and has a well developed infrastructure, but Lomax also mentioned some of its challenges. For example, the city’s arts sector has to negotiate public sector cuts, expensive property and complex layers of bureaucracy and planning. The Arts Council also needs to consider how to maintain London as a city where artists can afford to work. All these challenges are mirrored in major Asian cities like Hong Kong or Singapore.

During her talk, Lomax shared the story of a recent successful partnership between ACE, a non-profit organisation, and the commercial sector. House of Voltaire was a temporary shop selling a diverse selection of artists’ works, limited editions and original pieces by contemporary artists working under the support of Studio Voltaire.

Art and design celebrities don the House of Voltaire work coat for their shift as shopkeeper for the day. Image courtesy Studio Voltaire.

Art and design celebrities don the House of Voltaire work coat for their shift as shopkeeper for the day. Image courtesy Studio Voltaire.

It received a small investment of £10,000 for marketing and audience development from ACE. The shop was located in upmarket Mayfair, upstairs in a boutique shop. With the help of the investment grant, Studio Voltaire’s board members activated their connections and invited key figures in the design and art world to become shopkeepers for a day.

Here, innovation was instrumental in creating a fun event that drew in big audiences. In addition to Studio Voltaire’s track record for artistic quality, its creative blend of “an affordable shopping [and] immersion of art experience” guaranteed the success of this promotional event.

ACE also publishes research on the study of the contemporary visual arts market in the UK. For example, Louisa Buck’s “Market Matters, the Dynamics of the Contemporary Art Market” explains the interaction of the public and private sectors, the complex world of endorsement for artists and the value of the market and it’s development.

Joe La Placa: Artistic patronage in the 21st century

All Visual Arts (AVA) is an art commissioning and collecting agency founded in 2008 by Joe La Placa, a long-time art dealer, and Mike Platt, a hedge fund billionaire. La Placa has an uncanny ability to recognise new talent, having been a successful dealer for a generation of New York artists such as Basquiat in the 1980s. AVA first identifies talented artists then works closely with them to commission work that is often ambitious in scale and in concept. Roughly twenty to forty percent of the work goes into AVA’s collection and the rest is available for commercial sale. Currently, AVA has a stable of six artists, all British.

Joe La Placa and Mike Platt. Image courtesy All Visual Arts.

Joe La Placa and Mike Platt. Image courtesy All Visual Arts.

Once the new work is created, AVA seeks exhibitions globally and creates its own thoughtfully-planned large-scale exhibitions at unexpected third-party locations to promote the artists and their work. During Frieze Week London 2009,”The Age of the Marvelous” took over the magnificent former Holy Trinity Church at One Marylebone in central London. The concept was inspired by the Wunderkammers (or Cabinets of Curiosities) popular late in the European Renaissance and the exhibition featured sixty works, mostly newly commissioned, in an attempt to display the tendency for contemporary artists to adopt a varied and cross-disciplinary approach.

In 2010, “Vanitas: The Transience of Earthly Pleasures” took place in the sumptuous setting of the former Sierra Leone Embassy, again during Frieze Art Fair. The show gave a contemporary update to the four-hundred-year-old theme of the Vanitas and explored all facets of this tradition. Both exhibitions featured AVA’s own artists alongside other leading figures of the international art world. Indeed, it is not surprising to hear AVA described as “reinventing the great tradition of artistic patronage for the 21st century.”

When asked about the correlation of art market and the economy, La Placa answered swiftly and animatedly,

Art is imperative to human survival and it is deeply rooted in our survival. The emotion and experience of seeing good art is irreplaceable.

When asked how one can identify good art, he confirmed that a good eye does come with experience and only after viewing thousands of art works.

Installation view, "The Age of the Marvellous", Vanitas, 2010. Image courtesy All Visual Arts.

Installation view, "The Age of the Marvellous", Vanitas, 2010. Image courtesy All Visual Arts.

About ArtInsight and the 2011 Global Art Market Series

ArtInsight, a London-based education firm offering, in association with London Business School (LBS) Art Connection, seminars and courses on the art market, is hosting the 2011 Global Art Market Series at LBS. The series includes three evening seminars, focused on understanding and analysing the key developments in today’s dynamic global art market. Each seminar includes in-depth talks and panel discussion from key experts and practitioners inside the art world.

Art Radar to cover next two seminars

Stay tuned for the upcoming reports on the next two seminars: ‘Innovation in Art Investments – 2011: Trends, Risks & Opportunities’ on 15 February and ‘Developments in the Emerging Art Markets: A Global Overview – Focus on Africa, Brazil & Russia’ on 15 March.

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Related Topics: business of art, globalisation of art, art spaces

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Comments

3 art innovators share intriguing business models at first ArtInsight seminar — 1 Comment

  1. Very insightful information.
    Wish to be posted with current trends in global art business.
    keep it up.

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