Galleries That Moonlight: These Small and Midsize Dealers Are Making Money in Nontraditional Ways – Google Alerts

To passerby, James Gallery in Pittsburgh would seem like a typical art gallery, with a slate of exhibitions and a range of art on offer. But it would be more accurate to describe the building as a “multi-service shop.” That’s the term that art-market economist Clare McAndrew uses to describe a newer breed of gallery that has to do more than just show and sell art in order to survive in a highly competitive art market.

James Gallery, for its part, cannot wait for an artist in its 35-strong stable to make it big, so it needs a variety of related sources of revenue. It will sell you art (a piece at a time or enough to fill an entire building), frame your art, commission artists to create specific works for you, evaluate your existing collection (“asset management”), and even let you throw a party right in the gallery. Such extras might already be rolled into the business of mega-galleries, which have been known to rent out their cavernous Chelsea spaces in New York for Fashion Week and some offer concierge-style services to collectors. But such endeavors are newer for smaller galleries, which are now pursuing them as separate profit-making endeavors rather than extras that a select few billionaire clients have come to expect.

Providing such client services, or “finding additional revenue streams,” as Andrew Schoelkopf, president of the New York-based Art Dealers Association of America, called it, might have been considered gauche in an earlier era. But it has become the new business model for smaller and regional galleries that are looking to compete with the growing quantity of online art sales, other galleries (Schoelkopf estimated that there are 296,550 of them around the world) and the hundreds of international art fairs where the elite galleries show their wares. It is a crowded field.

Boosting the Bottom Line

James Gallery estimates that sales of original art amount to only 20 percent, or $500,000, of the gallery’s $2.5 million…

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