By Nii B. Andrews.
The anecdotal evidence from gallery owners in Accra is that this year has so far been dismal for art sales.
Many individual artists have also confirmed this view.
At ARTcapital Ghana, we were happy to make a few modest purchases to support the art ecosystem during this difficult period.
A research collaboration, spanning January to July 2020, by the cultural economist Clare McAndrew’s company – Art Economics and UBS examined art sales “in the US, UK, and Hong Kong—with a particular focus on how the pandemic has changed their interactions with galleries in the art market.”
There were four main findings for the period.
First, close to one-third of the galleries had to shed staff and over 90% had to close their physical space for a certain period; there was a concomitant average drop of 36% in sales.
Second, there was a marked increase in online sales; they rose to 37% compared to 10% of total sales for the previous year.
Third, dealers were more active with their digital content with respect to sales strategy.
And fourth, the proportion of sales at art fairs decreased markedly from 46% to 16%.
Most dealers indicated that they had shifted their priorities to boosting online sales, cutting costs and “maintaining relationships with existing clients who were seen to be critical to their survival”.
Over 90% of collectors surveyed indicated that they had purchased a work of art during the period; 13% spent over USD 1m and 63% spent over USD100K.
The collectors had a comparatively positive outlook: 59% felt that the pandemic had increased their interest in collecting.
The millennial collectors had the largest share of high spenders, with 14% having spent over USD1 million (compared with just 5% of boomers).
More than 70% of millennials reported that the pandemic had enhanced their interest in collecting art.
Over the long term, collectors’ confidence in the art market is advancing across the board.