Nalini S Malaviya, an art consultant, critic and founder of an art information website, on growing opportunities for artists and allied professionals in her field
The Indian art market is rapidly evolving and expanding in width and dimension despite economic downturns. The last couple of decades have been responsible in giving an impetus to art activities, and in causing a surge in terms of awareness and interest in art. In recent times, several art fairs, festivals and significant exhibitions held across India have ensured that not only local audiences are engaged, but international participation has also grown. In fact, India is fast becoming a prominent player in the region as interest in modern and contemporary art has grown significantly across the world, and the events built around it are of global standards. International art auction houses are also viewing India as a significant market, which is also indicated by a surge in sales in modern Indian art at recent auctions.
With the growth in the Indian art market, not just artists but also other allied professionals such as critics, curators, consultants, restorers among others have increased opportunities for employment. The job description of an art consultant can be quite exhaustive and involve advice on investing in art, building an art collection for individuals and corporate, offering advisory services such as appraisals and valuation. It also involves interactions with artists, mentoring upcoming artists, writing catalogue text, curating art exhibitions and also has opportunities for teaching, conducting seminars, writing for media and advising start-ups on art ventures. As an established art consultant, one can work with artists, galleries, corporates and also art colleges.
Educational Qualifications and Skill Sets
Art history/criticism/curation/arts management backgrounds facilitate a career in art consulting. People from multidisciplinary backgrounds who are creative and knowledgeable about art, possess exceptional analytical and writing skills along with the ability to conceptualize and curate exhibitions can also succeed, but it is important to understand that one must be conversant and informed about art history, artists, global trends, markets, galleries and related topics. Irrespective of the educational background, art consulting is a demanding field and one must be willing to learn with experience and self-study. It also helps to be passionate about art and have networking skills, along with excellent communication skills.
The contemporary art scene is expected to grow further; the online space especially is evolving at a fast clip and is expected to see more players. As corporates and other businesses become more sensitive towards the arts, the expertise of an art consultant will be required to bring in art based programmes, for instance, training and workshops for employees, activities as part of corporate social responsibility and other areas where art knowledge and creativity is essential.
Starting salaries could be low, but there are plenty of opportunities to freelance. It can be anywhere from Rs 20,000 onwards depending on your capabilities and skill sets.
-As told to BS Manu Rao
An abbreviated version of the above article was published in Times of India, Bangalore on 25th April, 2016
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