The containment performs a backflip, art galleries

Le confinement noircit le tableau des galeries d’art

Photo: Valérian Mazataud The Duty
The Building of the Belgo, rue Sainte-Catherine in Montreal, where is including the gallery of photography, The Castiglione, is closed due to the pandemic COVID-19.

The outbreak in Quebec of the COVID-19 has not yet made a single art gallery in the bankruptcy. As with all businesses, the image of empty premises is, however, a sign that it’s not running strong. The effects of the virus, Simon Blais, a gallery owner with 30 years of experience, feels it even in its electronic exchanges. “The activities have declined by 97 %. Before the crisis, I received one hundred e-mails per day. Then, I get three ” shows-t-it.

Although not convinced that the online sales are the priority, Simon Blais has not refused an offer of the house Heffel : auction, since the Web-site of the famous firm, works in her gallery. An inexpensive option that may be paid. This does not have to be worried about, as the business model for a gallery, which is based on human relations, will review. “Privileged “, he said, to have high net worth clients, it is not in a position of risk.

Galerie Simon Blais may be operating in slow motion, without its four employees made redundant, but its owner has been contacted by a collector, european, caught up in the virtual exhibition Space optical. The contact is translated into a transaction. “I have just enough sales to say that the gallery is not dead, as the trade continues,” says Simon Blais. I have the feeling that, when it will resume, people will have a hunger for art “

But when asked how long he can hold, he is categorical : three or four months, not more.

After the initial shock

“Zero income for six months ? Impossible. “Antoine Ertaskiran can not imagine such a scenario. The one who has scuttled its first gallery to be born again in January under the name of Bradley Ertaskiran, during a merger with the Parisian Laundry, feels happy to have survived a first month the doors were locked.

The initial shock passed, and the dismissal of the two employees assumed, Bradley Ertaskiran resumes the course of things. The two owners is new to telework, and the broadcast 100 % in line with optimism. “ It is slow, but it is almost as usual, ” says Megan Bradley. We take our business differently, we work on our programming differently. “” We made a lot less sales, admits Antoine Ertaskiran, but they continue to make, to our great surprise. “

And the good news is, they say, the wage subsidy the federal emergency allowed to re-employ the employees.

Christine Redfern, director of the gallery Ellephant, has been working tirelessly since the closure of his local area in the Quartier des spectacles. Not only will it finalizes an old project — the exhibitions “turnkey” — but she remains in high demand. “We continue to work with museums and institutions, here and abroad, on of exhibitions scheduled before the pandemic,” she said. Of course, they have been postponed and there is a lot of uncertainty, but they will be ready when the pandemic will be increased. “

It also continues to sell. “The collectors want to support the artists and the galleries of Quebec in these difficult times. The crisis made them think that it is the right time to buy, ” said Christine Redfern.

Without wanting to detail the case of Ellephant, Christine Redfern is no denying that the current situation has ” negative impact on sales “. In Bradley Ertaskiran, the cancellation of the fair Paper deprives its owners of valuable income. “For the Parisian Laundry and the gallery that bore my name, the fairs accounted for 30% of turnover. Paper in particular was very important, ” says Antoine Ertaskiran.

The event was to be held the last weekend of April. Obliged first to postpone it in June, and then cancel, the Association of contemporary art galleries (AGAC) board now has a virtual version — the details are to proclaim. As elsewhere in the world, starting with Art Basel Hong Kong, which has taken this route in march.

According to Julie Lacroix, the director of the grouping, the digital shift in the art market beyond the current crisis. For the past six months, the AGAC itself develops an augmented reality app with a montreal-based firm. “Users will be able to view, on their own walls, hundreds of works presented by the galleries,” she says.

Real threat

Julie Lacroix acknowledges, however, that the truce imposed by the sanitary measures would impact ” huge “. Even after the confinement is lifted, the economic recovery will be slow, and the purchase of art, not a priority.

The AGAC and its counterpart in ontario (Art Dealers Association of Canada) are asking the federal government to relax its aid measures. Julie Lacroix gives as an example the Account of the urgency for canadian companies. It comes to no-interest loans allocated according to the wages of a firm. Except that…

“Many gallery owners are paid by dividends, not wages. The details are slow in coming, said the one who also mentioned the $ 500 million recently announced by Heritage Canada. A priori, this is not a fund for our members, but the AGAC could [call] for a campaign of collective promotion. “

“Without government support, additional, she says, the galleries will not survive to the coronavirus. “

I hope that there will be a new prioritization of values, of what we wish for as a society. That the current situation, we identify the cultural homogenization and consumption.

— Marie-Josée Rousseau

 

Marie-Josée Rousseau was founded, six years ago, The Castiglione, rare photo gallery. In an email exchange, she said that with all of the activities suspended, ” it becomes complicated to project into the future “. “We operate only through the sale of works she wrote. I don’t know when it will resume. A young gallery like mine can not resist for a long time. She shines well, but it still remains to be done before we talk about profitability. “

The Castiglione does not have access to any assistance, and Marie-Josée Rousseau sees as little easy to create ” traffic in the digital world “. Serene all the same, she thinks the benefits… of the pandemic COVID-19. “I hope that there will be a new prioritization of values, of what we wish for as a society. That the current situation, we identify the cultural homogenization and the over-consumption, she said. A gallery of art works, not with the goods to the consumer, but with cultural property. “

Remains to see what will occur first between this paradigm shift and a first-time bankrupt.

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