Artsy Gallery Insights: 2021 Report – Overview

Artsy researchers focused their attention this year on the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on sales and marketing practices in the gallery sector. And, for the first time, this report explores diversity in the industry, taking a hard look at the experiences of gallery owners and directors who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC).

Key Findings

Downsizing impacted the percentage of mid-size galleries in the industry

The percentage of large galleries (those with seven or more full-time employees) remained unchanged from 2019, but mid-size galleries (with two to six full-time employees) dropped by 6%. At the same time, the number of small galleries (with a single full-time employee) doubled from last year. This increase in the number of small galleries is likely the result of lay-o s and downsizing among mid-size galleries, as they made changes to reflect shifts in foot traffic and sales.

Social media replaced fairs as a major sales channel

Though it was predictable that the industry saw a reduction in fair sales this year, the increase in sales made through social media was unexpected. The average gallery’s marketing budget for social media increased by 92% from 2019, and social media ranked third in the top sales channels—the rank formerly held by fairs. Participants reported that their most used sales tactics on social media in 2020 were organic posts, stories,
and direct messages.

Galleries have embraced new sales methods

Since collectors couldn’t always visit galleries in person in 2020, techniques like video conferencing and online auctions o ered successful alternatives for galleries to boost sales and connect with buyers. Several galleries reported video conferencing, like private walk-throughs with collectors via FaceTime or other apps, as the most successful tactic, with 16% of respondents reporting great success. Online auctions were close behind in terms of new sales techniques—14% of survey respondents reported that online auctions were a largely successful new tactic.

COVID-19 has had a greater negative impact on BIPOC galleries

BIPOC-owned or -directed galleries reported an above-average rate of physical closures in response to the pandemic, with 11% of businesses closing their spaces in the last 12 months. This number is concerning, particularly when compared to the overall closure rate of 8%. It’s clear from these numbers that business closure is just one of many ways that the pandemic has negatively impacted BIPOC communities more than others.

Galleries have expanded their online audience

As galleries move online, they widen their scope. In response to our survey, 73% of galleries reported that at least half of the collectors they connected with online in 2020 were new to their business—suggesting that one bene t of investing in digital spheres is the ability to connect with a broader range of clients and collectors. Offering art online also plays a role in the demographics of collectors—the share of buyers between 18 and 35 doubled in 2020; younger buyers prefer to buy online.

More galleries than ever before have adopted the online-only model

Prompted by canceled events, travel bans, and reduced foot traffic in cities across the globe, many galleries shifted to online-only business models in 2020. In fact, 35% of respondents reported operating without a physical location—more than double the numbers reported in 2018 and 2019. Financial concerns may also provide incentive for an online-only model, as the world feels the economic strain of COVID-19. With an end to the pandemic in sight, 2021 will reveal whether these galleries return to brick and mortar or remain online permanently.

According to Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report (p.9) Online confidence among gallery owners has grown. In 2019, 48% of galleries were confident in their online strategies. In 2020, that number jumped to 54%.

Also, younger collectors are making a market impact. In 2018 and 2019, just over 2% of galleries reported that the average age of their buyers was between 18 and 34. at numbered doubled to 4% in 2020. (p.10)

Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report. P.14.

Innovative tactics in 2020

The most popular experimental tactic was the adoption of online viewing rooms, with 34% of galleries reporting that they took part in a viewing room in 2020.

Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report. P.16.

LGBTQ+ and Women-Owned Galleries Continued to Grow

The survey reveals growing stability among women- owned and LGBTQ+-owned galleries, which are similar in number of employees and average business age to the overall industry.

Below, you can analyze some more graphics:

Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report. P.29.
Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report. P.30.

The full text was taken from the Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report.

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