No End In Sight — Wrapping up 2021
Episode 9 Script — Welcome to episode 9 — No End In Sight — Wrapping Up 2021. This episode is about how the ongoing Covid Pandemic which is going on 2 years at this time is impacting the Art World. All of my Podcasts are intentionally short and the scripts for each episode are published on my Patreon page prior to broadcasting and the scripts are published on my Medium page following the broadcast. Given the restrictions and closures I have decided to pivot my ongoing subject matter to include articles from Art publications so that I am able to continue my Podcasts on a regular schedule.
Theatres and Cinemas have made headlines about reopening recently but closures persist. Opera companies, Symphonies and Museums are all having struggles maintaining their staff and facilities.
I’ll talk in more depth after this short break.
While large institutions grab the headlines, commercial art galleries have either closed permanently or are hanging onto the edge of the cliff with their fingernails. An article December 29th in ARTnews mentioned the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. is closing four museums for about a week due to staffing shortages related to Covid. This closure news is familiar across Europe and the United States with museums such as Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Cincinnati Art Museum. There have also been reductions in hours as well as limited capacity being allowed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
I listened to a Freakonomics Radio 3 part podcast the other day about the Hidden Side of the Art Business which I will talk more about on my next episode, and they talked about commercial art galleries. I co-owned an art gallery called Live Art Place in south Tampa during the 1990s and I recently decided to contact some of my former peers but I was disappointed to find them gone.
My art gallery Live Art Place was a member of the Tampa Gallery Association and as a group we held an annual Gallery Hop which at the time was the most popular art event in the city. The Hop started at the Museum downtown where there was food and drinks and entertainment and we used city buses that toured the south Tampa member galleries. I had so much fun and every 15 minutes 40 to 50 people swarmed my gallery before getting back on a bus to go to the next gallery.
I wanted to talk to my former peers about gallery representation since the pandemic restrictions are beginning to change or be eliminated and I thought this might be a good time. My disappointment came when I could no longer find any of these galleries and I realized I would have to come up with plan B. I did get a call back from one of my former peers who still has her gallery but is only open by appointment. She told me her gallery is still operating because she owns the building and she is trying to retire. She also mused that we shared in the Golden Age of Tampa’s art scene. Most commercial galleries do not own their building.
After some discussion with friends, patrons and fellow artists who suggested I use my longtime standing in the local art scene to possibly revive the Gallery Association and possibly reopen a new art gallery for my work, I began to explore options. The Tampa Bay Area is pricey to say the least but I started looking on Trulia and Zillow for property in my price range and while I found a few… very few vacant lots, I didn’t see anything with existing structures in my price range. Even if I found a location in my price range, which I don’t think will happen; the are market has changed and many companies which were building corporate art collections during Tampa’s Golden Age are no longer doing so. Private collectors are dramatically less enthusiastic about art and buy little these days. On with my plan B research on other geographic regions, I guess.
This weekend is the St. Petersburg Art Scene’s Second Saturday where the local studios and galleries are open to the public for touring. I plan to go since Saint Petersburg is doing so much more for the arts than Tampa right now. I signed up for a waiting list for studio space 8 months ago and I have yet to hear back. That is another reason I am considering a relocation because commercial real estate in the Tampa Area is cost prohibitive and the local arts organizations don’t have enough available studio space for rent to all the artists in the area who need space to create. This lack of affordable studio space is a problem in any city. Property owners who have difficulty finding tenants often times will rent to artists for little or no rent on a year to year lease only to spike the rent once the area becomes desirable because it’s artsy and those artists are forced to leave.
Now you understand why I say there is no end in sight. The pandemic situation is really difficult on the arts and the artists. The art market has changed since the Golden Age of the Tampa Art Scene when I owned my gallery. I don’t want to repeat Episode 4 or Episode 9 in the future but Covid is killing the arts who were all on life support before the pandemic. Let me know your thoughts and experiences.