The Affordable Art Fair Autumn 2011 – Taking the Art Market Temperature

The Affordable Art Fair Autumn 2011

A post Art Fair email from AAF founder  Will Ramsay

I found this appraisal of the AAF of great value to our work at MSPA and to all artists, so I wanted to share it – the letter has been edited by me for confidentiality.

Dear Affordable Art Fair Battersea October Exhibitors

A massive thank you to everyone for taking part in the fair last week. We never take for granted the commitment you all make, both in terms of finance and effort, and more so than ever in these straitened times.

Footfall was just over 18,000 adults.  This was 10% down on the average, and 20% down on the last October fair. Sales of art were around £3.3million, also down 10% on the average and 22.5% down on last October. This means that those who came this year spent less per head.  Interestingly, some take the view that we are now experiencing a ‘double dip’ recession: the first dip affected the Oct 08 fair with a drop from £5million sales down  to £3.6million  (which has since steadily increased to £4.25million at the last fair), and this fair’s drop back to £3.3million would suggest we are now experiencing the ‘double dip’.

Certainly the retail sector is really struggling, and we all know how we are having to work very hard to convert hesitant art lovers into spenders.  We do hope that you are able to convert more of the nervous in the coming weeks, and so have excellent after-sales.  We know that some of you have had a greater drop than 22.5%, while some have matched or improved on last year; we really feel terrible for those of you in the former category.  At our own gallery we will be working hard on after-sales, and expect a higher ratio of after-sales (relative to on-site sales) than in the more ‘snap them up’ times.  We really hope that, with this follow up, you will have at least broken even.  We do not consider it an acceptable performance on our part if you have only broken even over the last two fairs combined and are truly sorry if this is the case.

We will give you an update after we have analysed the Hampstead fair fully, and what actions we will take to improve.  In our visitor surveys we are asking what postcode visitors live in, to help us assess how much crossover there was between the two fairs.

We believe that we are doing a better job than some others in these difficult times, but we want to do better for you still.  If we bury our head in the sand and wait for the good times to return by magic, we will all be disappointed; proactivity is a good thing when times are tough, and this was one of the reasons we went ahead with Hampstead; history will tell us whether this was an error of judgement, and if it was, we will do all we can to rectify matters.  We will continue to work very hard to provide you with an excellent service, with a well promoted and well organised fair.  We care about you a lot, and want you all to do well.  We want to beat the recession, eradicate customer nervousness as best we can, and to get more of the buzzy fun factor back!

Many thanks once again for your huge support.”

Yours very sincerely

Will Ramsay

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