Is your art worth the cost of a business manager? One who will help promote, represent, price your art, pick up new clients, gain gallery representation, handle your financial matters, and grow your art sales? It probably is. But can you find one? Probably not. So, how much is your art worth?
The Australian art show, The Mix, on ABC TV, Feb 25, 2017, had their pub critics look at the “marketability of Australian art”. Not once did they mention the important part an art manager played in the commercial viability of Australian art or artists. It is so not on people’s radar’s that they don’t even mention it.
How much is the global art market worth?
In 2016, art auctions across the world totalled $16.5 billion AUD.
Around 13 million people go to Australian art galleries every year. With numbers like that interested in seeing visual art, you’d think that there would be art managers clambering for a slice of the Aussie visual art market, but there’s not.
Other than some gallery owners, there are almost no professional arts managers in the visual art sector in Australia.
But not in the sports industry. We are swamped with sports management companies and experienced individual sports managers guiding our athletes.
How much is the Australian art market worth?
In 2016, Australian art auctions generated just over $100 million. So why aren’t there art management companies clambering to get a slice of that pie? Why aren’t they doing what the sports management companies do for sports players and sporting groups?
At many universities in Australia, you can get a Master of Art Management degree. But I assume their graduates are going into private and public institutions, because they aren’t setting up arts management companies.
After many years of interviewing and talking to artists, I’ve found the one area where most painters and visual artists can get little help with, is arts management. Even frontline artists who sell well, can’t get a management group to look after their interests or careers.
It’s left up to the individual artists to represent themselves. And this does not work.
I know many excellent artists who cannot get gallery representation because they are busy at their craft. They see the promotion of their artworks as all too much trouble. And it is in the current art world.
Most top sports people do not manage themselves. Many people in business have mentors and gurus they can turn to. But the visual artist is on her or his own. Something needs to be done about this.
Australian female managers need to pick up their game
Most painters in Australia are female. Though you wouldn’t think so when you looked around at gallery representation, prize winners and artists’ reviews. There is a strong correlation between women and visual art, especially women responding to visual art. Here are just a few figures on female representation in visual art in Australia from 2014 in The Countess Report.
- 74% of visual art graduates in Australia are women
- Women only get 34% of the reviews
- Only 40% gallery representation goes to women
- Women get more visual art prizes, but less prize money than men
Yes, it’s still a blokey world. It’s slowly changing, but it some areas, women’s representation is slipping back. Australia needs female art managers stepping into business management to help represent all artists in Australia. Especially women painters. Why female managers? The figures show that women get visual art better. If you are closer to something, you understand it more and can do a better job of communicating and promoting it.
Frontline sports people have managers, why not frontline artists?
We saw the news on Australian football player Jarryd Hanyne, and his transition from NRL to NFL. He could not have achieved this without the help of his manager. Once he has made his move, other things started to flow on around his progress. “Jarryd Hayne’s US agent Jack Bechta has floated the idea of holding workouts in Australia in a bid to scout rugby league talent for the NFL”
It is things like this that a good manager or agent can do for an artist and the industry. But sadly, there are no arts managers or groups in Australia out there to help support and develop Australian artists.
A commercial arts management group is desperately needed to help guide and build visual artists’ careers in Australia. We need an entrepreneur to step up and start a company that can help artists to become the best they can.
An arts management group could help show the world, just how good Australian art is.