January 23, 2022

The Editor Speaks: Can our National Gallery ever be profitable?

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No. I don’t know of any National Gallery that doesn’t rely on a government/local authority/national funding agreement/etc for the bulk of its funds. In Scotland, the National Gallery there gets a National Lottery grant.

It therefore comes as no surprise to learn our National Gallery shows a net loss of $261,859 in the 2015/16 financial year. This is with a government grant of $400,000.

However, when you compare the size of the National Gallery building, 9,000 sq ft to the National Museum building which is less than half, things look a little different. The National Museum receives an annual grant of $825,000!

Culture Minister Dwayne Seymour said in the Legislative Assembly while the Gallery’s total revenue has increased 2% over the last four years, net profits have declined some 200% since the Gallery moved into its new facility. It’s previous rental facility was only 2,000 sq ft.

The Auditor General in her report said she doubted whether the gallery can continue as a going concern.

Of course it can’t.

Even the Cayman National Cultural Foundation receives a bigger grant of $650,000.

National Gallery Director Natalie Urquhart speaking on CITN/Cayman27’s news said, “We have landscape costs, we have maintenance, we have cleaning, we have all the other things that everyone with a larger facility has, so we work very hard to meet that every year.”

And the Government grant hasn’t changed in five years. Outside donations have been on the decline.

Urquhart is aware of the concerns and said she is exploring new revenue streams, while simultaneously keeping its focus on its bread and butter: the programming.

US President, a business man, is oblivious to the importance of the arts, and is cutting the National Grants to the Arts without a thought for this and seems to believe civil society is going to make up the shortfalls.

They won’t.

I remember getting excited to go to a gallery, meet an artist in person and experience a work of art. Now, with almost every image an artist makes available on the internet, more people can view the work online and decide if they like it enough to leave their house to visit the gallery, or attend the opening reception, or just stay in to watch another night of reality television.

Artists and dealers know that art must be experienced in person to truly get a sense of its magnitude — it’s people like Trump and Auditor Generals who don’t.

I asked the question on the Internet “Are galleries important?” There was a universal answer of “YES”.

With our young people playing their war games on computers, joining gangs, roaming the streets bored stiff with life, a national gallery is a place they should be encouraged to go.

Jason Landry writing on The Huffington Post echoed my thoughts. He said:

“The gallery used to be a place to go to meet up with friends and exchange ideas and build community. Patrons and students alike would come to see a show and then talk about it with their peers the next day. The arts community has grown to be less real and more superficial because of things like social media and sites like Facebook. With all the good that social media does as a marketing tool for galleries, artists and the arts as a whole, it also removes something from the art world equation: community.

“Galleries are one such place to build a community — a real, true social network — your art ecosystem, and that is important. It’s been this way forever. Warm body introductions are important. Social networks on the internet are okay to rack up followers or friends, but a great quote that I read in the book The Start-Up of You by Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn states, “There is a big difference between being the most connected person and being the best connected person.” My network came from the schools that I attended, but also through the artists, collectors, patrons, mentors, educators, curators and publishers that I bumped into at gallery openings and other art-related events along the way. Now that I am an art dealer, I don’t get out to openings like I did in the past. When I happened to go to a recent First Friday’s gallery event in Boston, it was great to run into old friends. It reminded me of what I love about the arts and I will stress it here again: the community.

“Fact: There is definitely a different experience meeting someone in person, rather than just looking at their photograph on a website. Just ask the thousands who think they have found their soul mate on sites like Match.com, and then realize they look nothing like their picture when they finally meet up for a date. The same goes true for looking at and experiencing a piece of art in a gallery. Before you click that ‘buy’ button on one of those online websites that sell art, go visit and support your local art galleries and experience what can happen. You may just be surprised at what you see, whom you meet, and what you will learn.”

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-landry/why-galleries-are-importa_b_4074202.html

Whilst the National Gallery may never be profitable government should look behind the pictures that adorn the walls.It is cheaper to up the grants and encourage our young to visit the gallery than lock them up in a prison.

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