Brian Usher Editorial
Publisher & CEO
It’s spring and there’s a tale of two realities out there. We keep hearing that the art market is struggling – at least in certain parts of the country. Alberta with its dependence upon the energy sector and world oil pricing seems particularly hard hit but, just one province over, sales in Vancouver are reported to be booming along with the super-hot real estate market. Across the country there’s evidence that the market for luxury goods is increasing in key Canadian cities, but less urban areas are often bereft of ‘higher-end shopping’ options, as Debra keeps reminding me. When faced with poor economic times, the usual, accountant-approved approach of many business owners is to cut back on advertising despite decades of research evidence that this tactic is only beneficial in the short term while managing cash flow. Longer term, the loss of market positioning can dramatically alter client perceptions of the viability of the business and allow ‘ competitors’ to step into the void. Of course, juggling expenses is always a relative matter – usually dependent upon the back-up resources available. We know about that. So I’m not being critical, just urging some caution. It also helps to understand how your advertising is targeting your ideal customer. Faced with declining results from ‘traditional’ sales channels, some gallery owners are looking at ways of re-inventing themselves – essentially changing their approaches to reaching potential customers. One gallery owner we know of has invested in super high resolution 9x6ft LED screens in their gallery location and is looking to leverage the investment by cross-marketing with several other media sources. I think this demonstrates a critical marketing strategy – namely collaboration – that many businesses resist. Some might see it as a barter economy. If successful, this owner’s approach represents a reasonably effective means of overcoming the limitations of wall space and time required for curating inventory. We look forward to hearing if it is successful. Another gallery owner, and this does require some deep pockets, is looking to purchase a 42ft luxury RV which will be wrapped in graphics and used as a traveling billboard. I imagine current low gasoline prices make this seem a manageable business expense, but it does tie one up with a lot of time on the road. So here we go – Pop-up Art Galleries – and the challenges therein. Even though these are novel approaches to the business of marketing art, they do still reinforce the reality that a key aspect of any business is advertising – getting your brand and product in front of the right customers. And clearly, knowing who your customers are and where they are should be key to your approach. Of course, it’s our belief that ARABELLA still represents one of the most cost effective ways of reaching the higher net-worth market. With that in mind, in this issue we’re pleased to present the launch of Art Vancouver – a new art fair venture started by Lisa Wolfin Wayrynen and Matt Wayrynen (www.artvancouver.net) in 2014. This is an exciting opportunity for local and international artists and galleries to position themselves in a major west coast art event that is likely to draw a diverse range of art collectors and aficionados. We’ve devoted pages 42-81 in this issue to preview some of the great talent that will be at Art Vancouver on May 26-29. Debra and I are looking forward to attending, and catching up with a lot of old friends and meeting many new ones.