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Photographic art gallery

Sector Spotlight: Art Galleries

The art sector in South Africa is flourishing with new and exciting talent. Read more about it here.

Within the South African art industry, there has been a lot of development over the last decade. The art market in the country now finds itself on a global scale with world appreciated contemporary art coming from the country.

This is good news for anyone who is looking to buy and run an art gallery.

The sector

The creative economy adds a lot of value to the country’s GDP. It’s difficult, however, to monitor and evaluate creative and cultural industries. What is evident, though, is that this a sector that will continue to grow and do well over the next few years.

The world over South Africa included, there has been a rise in privately owned art galleries. There are also many private collections that are being opened to the public. These private galleries are replacing publicly funded galleries. 

Online spaces sales have become more popular and, in general, the market in South Africa has caught the attention of international buyers and investors.

The business of art

Despite the particular product that you are selling, there are some business fundamentals that will still apply to you. For example, you will need to identify who your target market is so that you can market to them specifically.

Within the growing art scene, it is important to know what kind of gallery you are. Will you be looking to attract a younger crowd by representing emerging artists and selling more affordable art?

In this case, you will need to be able to be on trend in how you market and the events that you host.

On the other hand, though, you might be targeting a more affluent audience. Your focus would then be on investment pieces that collectors would be looking to add to their collections.

Essential skills

The risk with this business is the amount of subjectivity there is around art. It is important, therefore, that you have some experience or qualifications that will allow you to make calculated risks and know what the market is dictating. 

If you lack these particular skills, though, you can hire a curator to help you run your gallery. You will need, however, to be prepared to pay a large salary if you are expecting to hire someone with extensible knowledge and experience.

What you will not be able to get around, though, is a passion for art and a general flair for curating and knowledge of the art industry and history of art. 

The relationships that you build will be the most important part of your business. You will have to establish and maintain good relationships with both your artists and your clients. 

If you are buying an existing art gallery, you will need to take time to buy one that is right for you and for the market. Consider the physical location, online presence and the kind of art that the gallery showcases.

Anthea Taylor

About the author

Anthea Taylor is Content Producer at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.

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