Art Fair Attendance Growth

Skate's just release its Art Fair report, and the results are positive with attendance growth and increases in gallery participation. The report is interesting as it also looks at the use and growth of social media at art fairs. The report has some interesting information and statistics and well worth reading. Follow the source link below for charts and graphs.

Skate's reports
Q2 Art Fairs Attendance Jumps by 5.6%, Galleries Participation by 1.3%

Art Cologne is Model of Transparency; Art Basel Dominates Offline & Online

 In calendar Q2 2015, about 0.5 million1 art lovers visited 15 major art fairs tracked by Skate’s, a healthy 5.6% increase in visitor traffic versus Q2 2014. The total number of exhibitors grew by 1.3% to 1,8522. No art fairs disclosed decline in visitors, though three shows have failed to publish their 2015 attendance numbers so far, and one published identical numbers to those from 2014. Four art fairs reported decline in number of attending galleries, Art Cologne experiencing the largest drop (12 galleries, or 5.7% of the 2014 level) but presented it in its public disclosure as a well-planned and intentional move.

Masterpiece in London, Frieze New York, and Liste Basel (a satellite fair of Art Basel, in its 20th edition this year) reported the biggest visitor increases, and Spring Masters topped everyone with increase in gallery attendance, albeit from a low base and largely because its first edition under new management was hastily assembled in 2014, making this year’s fair the first to be properly organized by a new team.

Here are a few noteworthy data points for Q2 art fairs calendar:

 Art Basel was exceptionally strong this June with 6% and 5% growth respectively for visitors and galleries, already from the super-high base.

As reported in Skate’s Facebook Art Lovers Audience Report, ARTEBA is doing magic for the Argentinian art-market scene, delivering the world’s highest visitor traffic per participating gallery (988 visitors per exhibiting gallery). We also note a very successful matching program introduced by ARTEBA to stimulate its museums to purchase at the fair with private matching grants from a local Banco Ciudad.

 Design Miami/Basel (the show owned by MCH Group, the Art Basel owner) was the second best this quarter in terms of ability to deliver offline traffic, with 532 visitors per booth.

 London Masterpiece is going from strength to strength; its 6th edition this year delivered the best visitor traffic growth rate among the peers, with 8,900 attending the fair in the first day. While this is what Art Basel gets in the first few hours of general-admission day, the MCH Group that owns Art Basel, and also the world’s largest Basel World watch show, should pay attention. Masterpiece operates in a strategic London market and has been very successful in blending watches, fine art, design, and antiques categories under one roof; its horological collection was the most valuable object sold at Masterpiece fair this June3.

Art Cologne, Grande Dame of art-fair business4, sets the best standard for the trading disclosure in terms of artworks sold, prices paid, and rates billed to participating galleries (the schedule A to this report includes the list of gallery sales completed at Art Cologne and disclosed by the fair). To sum up all the numbers disclosed and add estimates for works sold (but no prices disclosed), Skate’s estimates Art Cologne’s 2015 edition verifiable on-the-spot turnover to be no less than EUR 15 million, or no less than EUR 72,000 per participating gallery or EUR 269 per attending art fair visitor. This is not bad given that direct participation expenses are made of EUR 400 application fee and EUR 285.9 per square meter of booth rent, bringing all-in attendance costs (lease, transport, insurance, etc.) to an average of about EUR 45,000 per booth. This implies at least 40% gross return on investment in Art Cologne participation for attending galleries. Good stuff!

Other art fairs should pay attention to the Art Cologne model transparency. The industry practice so far is to be ultra laconic about numbers disclosure. Frieze, for example, opted to include 14 galleries’ testimonials to how great sales were at its May New York edition in lieu of disclosing any single sale of substance. Spring Masters did the same, offering 13 testimonials and no data.

 In general, the disclosure level in art fairs business remains opaque; some well-established fairs like Volta Basel and Dallas Art Fair skip publication of any numbers altogether. This makes it even more ironic when their executives boast of record numbers. We are particularly amused with the journalism quality at Artdaily, which ran a story in June titled “Record Attendance at Volta’s Second Consecutive Year at Markthalle in Basel’s City Center,” quoting Volta management but failing to report a single data point for attendance numbers.

Art Fairs at Social Networks

In this report Skate’s also takes a closer look at social marketing league table of international art fairs. Skate’s considers Facebook and Instagram to be the most suitable social networks for art fairs business (superior even to web sites given lack of dynamic year-round content for web and twitter platforms that need such content to be efficient marketing tools) and rated the top 12 art fairs on each platform in the Exhibits 4 and 5, below. Our key takeaways:
 Art Basel’s dominance is striking.

 Latin American art fairs and Art Dubai are very clever with the use of social media, building large audiences on social networks that are disproportionate to their offline traffic numbers and importance in the global art fairs calendar.

 Merchandise Mart fairs (Armory and Volta) failed completely on Facebook; TEFAF and Frieze totally missed the boat on Instagram; and noble Art Cologne lost on social networks marketing altogether (trying to fix it now with Artsy partnership instead).
Source: Skate's

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