12 Dec 2008

C'est la vie - Art galleries continue to brave the markets left cold by the Mumbai terror attacks and economic crisis

One keeps hearing of reports where art shows have been postponed, trips abroad have been cancelled by artists, and galleries have cut down on expenses, so I thought of checking it out with local galleries to find out how they are coping with the current economic crisis. Are there strategies in place to counter the slowdown? Silloo Daruwala from Crimson Art Resource confirms that sales are hit but they are continuing with their shows. She says, “We might postpone a couple of shows in December by a week or so, but that is more to do with the Mumbai attack rather than the financial situation.” She feels people are affected emotionally as well, and when there has been such a loss to life, one is not in a mood to celebrate with art shows. However, one has to go ahead with all art activities.

Mona Webber from Gallery Sumukha affirms that it is not only sales but also footfalls that have reduced. She says, “Probably people feel that if they visit a gallery and if they like something, they might be tempted to buy. It is a little early to have an aggressive strategy but we will review the situation in the New Year and will decide what needs to be done.” She agrees that the Mumbai attacks have added to the overall sombre mood. Mona also feels that it is a buyer’s market now and there are people looking out for good bargains. According to her it is likely to be another 2 yrs before the situation stabilises.

RK Dugar from Gallery Mementos that recently opened its branch in the city plans to hold more shows of affordable art that is of good quality. He finds that people are still buying art but they are more into affordable art – below a certain price. He looks forward to organizing exhibitions of new and young artists, as people are continuing to buy art for smaller amounts. He believes that it will be at least a year before the financial markets begin to stabilise.
Obviously art cannot be on anyone’s priority list in times like this. However, one cannot suspend all activities and hope to resurface when the market is vibrant again. Well defined strategies may not be in place but most galleries will continue to organize events as planned so that their presence is maintained and they can capitalise on it when the market looks up again.
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