Here are our first two posts on the upside to the recession.
Jim Barr & Mary Barr:
Economists say we need recessions to drag markets back to reality, and there's a truth in that for the art world too. There's a possibility now for the weighty art infrastructure (the museums, funding bodies, educational institutions etc) to start being more concerned about how sustainable they are in the long-term rather than how fast they can grow and how much territory they can take. For the past decade and more institutions have used the good times to increase the duration of exhibitions way over their ability to captivate, to build and then build some more, to sideline incisive curation for exhibition design, to sacrifice focus for funding partnerships and move the selection of after-opening restaurants from two stars to five. Maybe a return to home entertaining, faster turnaround of exhibitions and more openess to opportunities and ideas is the way to go. Whatever results, it is unlikely to be what we expected. In the boom that followed the '87 crash we thought we'd been pushed out of the market but it wasn't true then and it won't be true tomorrow. Most serious artists create their work independently of economic fluctuations. OK, the studios may have to be smaller and materials more carefully eked out, but the work goes on.
Jim Barr and Mary Barr are Wellington-based independent curators, writers, collectors and bloggers
2009 the year that:
10. Obama gave more money to the NEA and appointed Knight Landesman's brother Rocco to run it
9. The queue got shorter for an Andreas Gursky
8. The fairs were less frenzied and more friendly
7. There were more thoughtful presentations at fairs and more room for younger galleries
6. Mortgage rates dropped to record lows
5. Construction costs dropped – think gallery building programs
4. There was a spate of great airfare and hotel deals
3. Less lavish sit-down post-opening dinners (one case running to seven figures) in favour of cheaper standup affairs (more fun)
2 We printed a catalogue in Iceland for less than half the price of a year before
1. Donors came out big time to support contemporary galleries and projects – think NZ at Venice.
Gregory Burke is the director of The Power Plant/Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada and former director of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand