Many businesses have been struggling to stay open and make money during the pandemic. However, one type of business that is unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be art galleries. James Fuentes, an owner of an art gallery in New York, was surprised to learn that his gallery was doing well profit-wise at the end of 2020.
James Fuentes stated that both he and his employees were working hard during the pandemic, saying that they were fighting for survival. When the new year struck, James was shocked to learn that his business was doing well.
Other than James Fuente's art gallery in New York, there are other art gallery businesses, big and small, that are doing well in profits. This makes it seem like art galleries are pandemic proof, although it’s hard to start that for sure without in-depth studies to support the assertion. Still, the anecdotal fact remains — several art galleries are reporting profits despite the pandemic. So how come some art galleries are thriving while most businesses are struggling?
The answer is that people who live in the US or other countries kept ordering art constantly throughout the pandemic. In fact, art galleries sales and profits skyrocketed in 2020.
While art galleries made good profits during 2020, some businesses like museums were less fortunate. According to the words of Laura Lott, the president and executive officer of the American Alliance of Museums, nonprofit businesses are struggling to make money, and it might be worse in 2021. A survey sent to AAM museum members in October got answers from over 750 AMM members, many of whom stated that their businesses are at high risk of being shut down completely.
Both art galleries and museums fulfill similar roles in our society. Both are places where the art of creators like Dijon Bowden can be displayed for the public, and where people can get in touch with important cultural and historical pieces. Another similarity between the two types of business is the collectors. Collectors support both museums and art galleries since they are one of the target audiences for both. But since museums were forced to stay closed while art galleries can still sell art online, the latter has fared better during the pandemic.
Online purchases also make it easier to buy valuable pieces anonymously or do it without attracting too much attention from the press. And while many of the patrons who support museums have continued to do so, it’s hard to get new donors during times of financial uncertainty, and the pandemic has interfered with other potential sources of revenue for museums.
Since the pandemic is entering its second year, the resources necessary for museums to stay open are at a greater risk of drying up. Statistics show that there were massive layoffs in 2020. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art located in Kansas City laid off about 15% of its employees. Besides the Nelson-Atkins Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago laid off 11%, which is a third of its employees.