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Art galleries and internationalisation: why and how you have to go global

· Gallery Resources

Internationalization is a strategy that allows companies to expand and develop internationally. This often occurs in order to take advantage of new opportunities, offered by other countries and foreign markets.

Why Are Galleries Becoming International?

Josh Sperling at Galerie Perrotin, Tokyo

To Increase Their Legitimacy

One of the main advantages of going global as a gallery is to gain legitimacy. By migrating or expanding to contemporary art capitals in the US, UK and France, you can acquire greater recognition. This effectively reduces uncertainty surrounding the quality of the artworks or the artists’ talent. It also builds trust between the gallery and its greater public, inviting potential collectors. Transparency and trust are essential for collector loyalty.

To Improve Their Reputation

A gallery establishing itself abroad increases its presence and reputation; locally, regionally and worldwide. The better a gallery’s reputation, the easier it is to attract new art collectors. It also happens that the more a gallery diversifies its sites (and touchpoints), the greater is its reach and potential growth in sales. It comes down to common sense! Finally, internationalization is proof of a gallery’s financial status. It stands as a great marker of success that can once again reinforce a gallery’s reputation. Such is the case for big names such as Galerie Perrotin which has 7 spaces including 3 in Paris, or Gagosian which is present in 18 galleries!

To Bring New Artistic Trends to the Forefront

International expansion is a whole new ballgame. It’s a new market, in which galleries can unearth emerging talent. It's often much easier to find local talent once in situ. And this works both ways! Galleries become more recognizable to international talent, and of course, contact is facilitated through the reduction of geographical barriers. This is one of the reasons why curators travel so much. Internationalization is also an opportunity to “follow” major collectors. Certain countries are more likely to invest in contemporary art than others. This is the case for China, home to many gallery branches. In 2000, China generated over $1 million in turnover from the art world. In 2019, it came in second to the United States, with $659 million in turnover. Additionally, Chinese buyers tend to support their compatriots by mainly buying their works. The Middle Kingdom therefore represents a non-negligible horizon for the players in the art world today.

To Cut Costs

Although internationalisation seems risky and costly at first, it guarantees galleries will experience a significant reduction in costs in the long term. Developing several points of sale around the world helps to stabilize galleries’ often unstable revenues. It becomes significantly easier to make several large sales per month.

Less important, yet still worth mentioning is the reduction of shipping costs, along with the reduced risk of damage to works during delivery.

Finally, some countries wishing to establish themselves in the art market are facilitating entry and encouraging foreign investment. This takes the form of government assistance when setting up a new gallery within the territory or the organization of large-scale cultural events. The UK government, for example, is proposing tax relief for exhibitions in museums and galleries to encourage the development of the art world. This plan is intended to help organizations who wish to share their expositions with the public, allowing them to recover part of their production costs.

How Do Galleries Expand Internationally?

By Participating in International Events

There are various ways for a gallery to expand internationally, each with different levels of expense and risk. The most common method is to take part in international art events, such as fairs, exhibitions (salons) or Biennials. A contemporary art fair is first and foremost a commercial event. It shouldn’t be confused with a biennial or a salon, which presents artworks eligible for prizes, but not for sale. The largest fairs are also growing internationally. Art Basel no longer takes place only in Basel, but also in Miami and Hong Kong; the Frieze Art Fair takes place in London, New York and Los Angeles.

For many galleries, taking part in fairs has become essential in the promotion of their artists. It’s a way to connect with both new and regular collectors. It can also establish the gallery’s identity by presenting a human component, while building customer loyalty and proving its place in the art market. Finally, it is also a means to reach an international audience.

However, the positive impacts of a fair aren’t always immediate. It remains a long process of building relationships.

Nevertheless, this type of event can be subject to risks and cancellations, so it is best not to develop your entire visibility strategy on it. Isolation due to Covid-19 is an example of this. Online sales platforms such as Artsper ensure you a lasting visibility in all periods.

By Opening a New International Site

A second way to internationalize your gallery is to set up an office abroad. Before doing so, you should carry out a market study. It’s also recommended to take inventory of the gallery's resources, whether they be financial, personal or material. The decision to physically expand a business overseas is not one to take lightly, and it is often advisable to call upon a third party. Among other things, your final destination should take into account the art market’s economy and trends. It should also include the cultural differences of each country and the purchasing behaviour of its citizens.

By Selling on an Online Marketplace like Artsper!

Last but not least, a gallery’s internationalization can also be achieved by selling its works online. Less expensive than the two previous options, it is also much less risky. It’s a great first step towards internationalization! Thanks to the internet, cellphones and diverse payment systems, access to art can be simplified and sales can be multiplied. Our online catalogue also supports galleries' physical exhibitions. On Artsper, galleries benefit from a support service as well as the creation of editorial content to promote their artists on the platform. In 2020, Artsper grew by 40%, proving the usefulness of an online art sales platform.

Finally, thanks to Artsper, galleries and collectors from all over the world can interact on a global scale – in just one click.

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