Stephanie Rowe, Dallas (2013), will be on show at this year’s edition of the London Art Fair. Image: Courtesy of the Oliver Sears Gallery
More than a third of dealers who took part in a survey by the London Art Fair say that rising rents and business rates are the biggest threat to the UK’s position at the forefront of the global art market. Of the 126 galleries exhibiting this year, 53 responded to the questionnaire about predictions for the art market in 2016, with 37% citing rents as the main problem.
The survey, which was conducted on the eve of the opening of the fair on 20 January (until 24 January), is the latest to flag up concerns about the impact of the property market on the cultural scene, particularly in London, which has seen an exodus of artists in recent years.
A further 21% of galleries say they are concerned about local government cuts to arts funding, 12% cite rising costs and reduced availability of studio space as their main worry and 10% say an education system that prioritises STEM subjects over the arts poses the biggest danger.
The picture is not all bleak, however. Despite recent media reports to the contrary, 85% of the surveyed dealers believe the art market will remain as strong or fare better in 2016. Of the galleries questioned, 43% say the growing number of people wanting to buy art presents the biggest opportunity, 23% cite more sales to international dealers and 17% say collaborations and partnerships will boost profile and profits.
“Fairs provide an increasingly valuable opportunity for galleries to increase their profile and reach new audiences,” says the fair director Sarah Monk. “London Art Fair provides a welcoming and supportive environment for collectors looking to discover quality Modern British and contemporary art—whether they are first-time buyers or experienced patrons.”