The Art Business Conference, united by our love of art, with founder and director, Louise Hamlin
THIS YEAR’S ART BUSINESS CONFERENCE, IN ITS FIFTH YEAR IN LONDON AND THIRD IN NEW YORK, IS GROWING IN ATTENDANCE BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS. IN A REVIEW OF THE NY CONFERENCE BY JOURNALIST, TIM SCHNEIDER, IN THE APRIL 20, 2018 ISSUE OF ARTNET NEWS, THE EXPLANATION IS SIMPLE: THE ART BUSINESS CONFERENCE ADDRESSES THE MOST PRESSING IDEOLOGICAL CONCERNS IN OUR CURRENT ART MARKET.
Earlier this week, a cross-section of art industry professionals converged in Midtown Manhattan to debate some of the market’s most urgent questions. Hailing from around the globe and across sectors, participants in the second annual ART BUSINESS CONFERENCE in New York dissected topics ranging from the practical (how to guard your data against malicious hackers) to the philosophical (how to steward an artist’s legacy).
We’ve packed the most important themes into an easy-to-digest capsule for anyone not in attendance. And since every good medicine is just the result of chemical reactions, here are the three main ideological collisions on display at the conference—and why they matter so much for where we go next.
TRANSPARENCY VS. OPACITY : The importance for dealers to do away with the secrecy-driven elitism of the traditional art sales process but to think of transparency is a much broader sense for the arts to continue to grow.
PROVINCIALISM VS. PROFESSIONALIZATION: From the challenges of globalization to the escalating scale of exhibitions, to the 21st century courtroom battles, the conference addresses the vast change of the art business from a cottage industry…Art has become too expensive, too complex and too globally mobile to keep handling with handshakes and ad hoc plans.
TECHNOLOGY VS. TRADITION: Technology is coming to the art world, whether the art industry is ready or not. The Art Business Conference should be applauded for giving the subject as much stage time as it did. But it will be the industry’s loss on multiple levels if it runs from the changes instead of meeting them head-on.
BEFORE RETURNING TO THE AGENDA AND PANELISTS FEATURED IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE FORTHCOMING LONDON CONFERENCE ON SEPTEMBER 4th, WE REJOIN LOUISE HAMLIN, ITS FOUNDER AND ORGANIZER, TO CONTINUE WITH HER PROFESSIONAL HISTORY AND THAT OF THE CONFERENCES THEMSELVES.
LOUISE, THANK YOU AND WELCOME BACK!
THE ART BUSINESS CONFERENCE IS IN ITS FIFTH YEAR, A ONE-DAY CONFERENCE FOR ART MARKET PROFESSIONALS. HOW WAS IT INITIALLY FORMED AND WHAT INSPIRED THE IDEA?
During my time at The Art Newspaper, I worked with a very large number of businesses across the art market, from galleries and museums, trade associations, art fairs and auction houses to professional service providers including insurers, shippers and web designers. I saw the need for a forum to bring all these different businesses together in a new learning environment to share knowledge in this unique and special industry.
As Kevin Lay of Arcis said in his closing remarks, at the most recent NY conference, “we are all united in our love for art”. A love of art and a desire to bring those working with it together was the inspiration for the conference.
APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY PEOPLE ATTEND AND HOW MUCH WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE IT GROW?
The conference now has over 630 delegates attending the 2018 conferences, representing over 350 global art organizations. I would love to grow, but physically, I think there is a limit. If we had unlimited space available, would we want to have unlimited places available? I don’t think so. It would become too difficult to make the presentations relevant to all and networking could become more challenging.
Growth in terms of reputation and success: Yes, of course. I would like to continue to build on the current success to ensure we attract good people to attend and put on presentations which are interesting, informative, educating, challenging, inspiring.
WHAT ARE THE NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STORIES IN WHICH NETWORKING PRODUCED POSITIVE GROWTH RESULTS FOR THOSE WHO ATTEND?
As I have said previously, networking is key to the event and we provide a good number of opportunities to do this throughout the day (networking breakfast, morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea, and of course evening drinks). In New York, the conference room is set up so that delegates sit at large round banqueting tables to encourage this. And at the forthcoming London conference on 4thSeptember, we will be introducing networking tables over lunchtime. This is a great opportunity to join a discussion around a specific topic, ask experts and meet fellow attendees. We have facilitated a number of connections during the conferences and also post conference – connecting people and businesses is what we love to do.
THE KEYNOTE SPEAKERS ARE VERY DISTINGUISHED IN THEIR AREAS OF EXPERTISE. WHAT ARE THE SUBJECTS THAT THE CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON WHEN CREATING PANELS OF DISCUSSION?
The subjects are diverse but the brief is the same for whatever the subject. I want to secure speakers who are knowledgeable and engaging. A lot of time and effort is given to putting together panels of people who do not necessarily share the same opinion on a subject but can bring different perspectives and experiences to the debate. There is always a need to be a little creative in putting together an interesting panel group. In terms of the topics, I try to make them timely, whatever is shaping the art market news at the time that is relevant to the buying and selling of art and also consulting widely across the industry to gauge interest in topics.
WHAT IS THE CURRENT MARKET IN THE U.K. AND THE U.S. AND HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE IT SHIFT AND GROW?
As a humble conference organizer and not an art market economist or journalist, I wouldn’t like to say!
However, in consulting across the market on topics as I do, it is an interesting time. Brexit in the UK and the Trump administration in the US have brought uncertainty to the art market, but as with everything there is always opportunity too!
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, WE WILL RETURN TO THE SPECIFICS OF THE NEXT ART BUSINESS CONFERENCE ON SEPTEMBER 4th IN LONDON. IT WILL BE WELL-ORGANIZED, INFORMATIVE AND PROVIDE A HUGE OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS IN A WIDE RANGE OF AREAS OF EXPERTISE.
WELL WORTH ATTENDING!