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German Contemporary Fine Art Galleries 2013

A first empirical national study on the economic situation and cultural role of art galleries in Germany with a focus on contemporary art.


An Inventory On Contemporary Art Galleries In Germany
On October 15, 2013, Berlin-based Institute for Strategy Development (IFSE) released its study on contemporary art galleries in Germany. This first empirical national study on the economic situation and cultural role of art galleries with a focus on contemporary art was created in co-operation with Bundesverband Deutscher Galerien und Kunsthändler e.V. (BVDG) (Association of German Galleries and Art Dealers). The results are based on extensive desktop research, qualitative interviews with gallery owners and art market experts as well as an online survey with about 200 participating galleries from all over Germany. We collected data about the size and location of the gallery, the structure of artists represented by the gallery, numbers of employees, annual turnovers and information about the gallery’s customers. The Institute for Strategy (IFSE) has published two studies on the contemporary art context in Berlin analyzing the landscape of cultural actors (Studio Berlin, 2010) and the living and working conditions of Berlin-based artists (Studio Berlin II, 2011). The present study gives an overview on the original version of the study (46 pages) which is available in German and can be ordered on our website.

Thank you for your understanding that some of the figures, classifications and descriptions we provide are given in more depth in the original version of this study. Please do not hesitate to contact us for questions, comments and feedback.

The contemporary art scene can hardly be imagined without galleries. They are artists’ partners and important mediators of new positions. They contribute to a city’s artistic flair and urbanity. In its variety, galleries make Germany one of the most important locations for contemporary art worldwide. But what exactly are we talking about when speaking of ‘galleries’? What economic conditions do they operate in? What are current challenges and perspectives?

Germany – Where Is Your Art Market?
German artists like Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz and Rosemarie Trockel belong to the most renowned and top-selling contemporary artists in the world. Germany is understood as a relevant location for the arts; especially Berlin has developed into one of the most attractive locations for the production of contemporary art on a global scale. The German art complex is characterized by a polycentric geographic structure; German galleries are well-spread all over the country. Berlin undoubtedly being the center of art production and presentation, many other German cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf, Munich and Hamburg also have lively art scenes, ranging from opera to music, dance and theatre, but also contemporary (visual) art. In other contemporary art centers like the USA, Great Britain and France, cities like New York, London and Paris respectively are the cultural hubs. On the other hand, the international reputation and economic power of German galleries is not comparable with ‘mega galleries’ like Gagosian, Zwirner or White Cube in New York or London. ‘Mega-galleries’, often described with horror and aversion, are not a German phenomenon. Despite the variety of art centers, the German art market – understood in monetary terms – does not make a significant economic contribution to the international art market as a whole (nor in comparison to the other German ‘creative industry’ branches for that matter). German auction houses generate turnovers of ‘only’ two-digit million sums whereas the global leaders like Christie’s and Sotheby’s generate around six billion US-Dollars annually.

The art market’s ‘boom’ in the early 2000s was characterized by multi-million dollar auction results at Christie’s and Sotheby’s as well as spectacular art events, biennales and art fairs. In auction houses, the ‘contemporary art boom’ also resonated: In 2011, Christie’s generated a turnover of 1.2 billion US-Dollars with ‘contemporary art’ – scoring best before Asian Art and Modern Art.  In 2012, the ‘contemporary art’ sales reached a turnover of around 1.6 billion US-Dollars. In general, the relationship between galleries and auction houses oscillates between rivalry and partnership. In the past decades, auction houses have increasingly started to invade the galleries’ core business, primary market art trade, with ‘private sales’.  In the first half of 2013 alone, Christie’s generated a turnover of 711 million US-Dollars with ‘private sales’. General media coverage on ‚the art market’ presents mostly spectacular auction results and annual sales: The ‘international art market’ (without further being specified, but seemingly synonymous with sales from big auction houses) generated about 43 billion Euros in 2012.  Christie‘s and Sotheby’s each generated over three billion US-Dollars alone in the first half of 2013.  These figures suggest that ‘the art market’ is doing pretty well. However, when looking at the German art market, this impression needs to be qualified in two respects: Firstly, the German art market, i.e. galleries, art dealers and auction houses, can by far not compete with centers like New York or London, who together make up around 60 percent of the international art market turnover.  In comparison to Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the results of German auction houses are little impressive: Villa Grisebach, a Berlin-based auction house made 55 million Euros with sales in all genres in 2011.  All in all, the German art market generates fewer sales than Larry Gagosian alone with an annual turnover of 925 million US-Dollars. Secondly, there is no unified art market – galleries and auction houses play in very different leagues. Also, amongst galleries themselves, there are great differences: About 60 percent of German galleries generate sales below 200,000 Euros per year. Only a few galleries with turnovers over one million Euros account for the largest part of total sales of the German art market. We will come back to the structure of annual turnovers later.

700 Galleries in Germany
On the search for the total number of art galleries in Germany, we came across estimates ranging from 200 up to 3,000 galleries. Thus, one of the first tasks in this study was to establish an empirically verified number of contemporary art galleries in Germany. In order to do so, we applied two criteria for ‘professional’ galleries. Firstly, the admission criteria of the National Association of German Galleries and Art Dealers (BVDG): 

“[...] that the applicant has hosted changing exhibitions in the past three years (at least four exhibitions each year) in their own gallery space, having sent out invitations or opening their space to the public for at least 20 years a week.”

The second, optional criterion we applied during the research on the total number of contemporary art galleries in Germany was the participation in at least one of the 21 contemporary art fairs and ancillary art fairs we listed in our survey. We included the criterion of art fair participation because we assume that the fact that a gallery exhibits at an art fair implies a certain economic situation (e.g. providing the costs of realizing an exhibition at an art fair). Galleries which are not participating in art fairs or are enlisted in gallery networks or associations of any kind (flyers, platforms, open galleries) are not included in this research. The research with these criteria resulted in a number of 700 contemporary art galleries in Germany:

A Third Of All Galleries Are Located In Berlin

33 percent of all galleries in Germany are located in Berlin, 23 percent are in North Rhine-Westphalia, especially Cologne and Düsseldorf. 11 percent of all contemporary art galleries are situated in Bavaria, which is almost synonymous with Munich with regards to the gallery scene. 49 percent of the galleries who participated in our survey are convinced that their gallery would also be successful in another (German) city and would be willing to move their gallery to a different location if it was economically beneficial.

Discourse on German Galleries

Several newspaper articles and art magazines have dealt with the situation of contemporary art galleries in Germany recently. The weekly newspaper “der Freitag” describes how, on the one hand, galleries are forced to become more flexible and mobile looking for wealthy collectors. On the other hand, the motivations and practices of art collecting are also changing. According to the author, the gap between top-selling, internationally operating galleries and small galleries in precarious economic conditions is widening. Another article describes the radicalization of the gallery business, causing extreme pressure and dissatisfaction amongst gallery owners.  In another article, critic Jerry Saltz suggests that this pressure pushes galleries to operate within a more market-driven logic: “The galleries where artists’ careers are really built from scratch are being forced to expand lest they be overwhelmed or picked clean by the megas [mega galleries].”  As described above, there are not many German galleries that fit the label ‘mega gallery’ in the first place, but because the art market is highly internationalized market, the practice of ‘mega galleries’ affects the so-called ‘Mittelstand der Galerien’ (roughly translating to ‘middle-class galleries’), the galleries in between the extremes of economic precariousness and franchised mega business, too. These ‘middle-class galleries’ are confronted with specific challenges we will further discuss in the context of this study.

When is a Gallery a Gallery?
The definition of a ‘gallery’ is multi-layered: Some view galleries as cultural institutions that are primarily concerned with mediating new positions to the public, economic gain being of secondary importance. Other actors of the art market understand galleries as galleries only when generating six-digit turnovers.
The self-understanding of the gallerist is equally broad and sometimes controversial: Some see themselves as tradespeople or business people who could also deal with a different ‘good’; others emphasize the importance of art mediation and the investment into the artist’s development which is often time-consuming and costly. Especially the building and support of an artist’s career is a core characteristic of a gallery owner, but also one of their main challenges: The resources (monetary and non-monetary) invested into increasing an artist’s visibility on the market cannot be monetarized. If an artist becomes successful under the gallery’s guidance, these successful artists will be attractive for bigger galleries who might woo them in their galleries. If an artist leaves a gallery for a bigger or ‚mega-gallery‘, the initial gallery not only loses their high-quality contributor, but also might be economically threatened. As Jerry Saltz puts it: “By now, these galleries [mega galleries] are essentially exploiting the potential of artists who have been carefully nurtured for years by other galleries. And often ruining them.” In the same article, Saltz continues: “The megas (like all galleries) say their job is to nurture talent and help artists succeed, but if you look at what they do, it is more like branding: Find a buzzy artist, no matter how iffy, and get his or her name out there.”

Research Design
At the beginning of the study, we determined the basic data we wanted to enquire through the survey among galleries. In the first half of April 2013, we collected information about yearly turnovers, the customer structure, the number of employees in galleries, size and location of the gallery space, number of visitors per year, number of exhibitions at art fairs, the price for a ‘typical’ painting, the number of represented artists and the number of exhibitions hosted in the gallery space. After the quantitative collection of data, we conducted several qualitative interviews with gallery owners from all over Germany, art market experts and service providers working for galleries, such as lawyers and art insurance brokers. Parallel to the interview stage, we conducted a thorough desktop research of gallery websites to gather all available data on galleries in Germany. All links and online resources cited here are retrieved as of October 14, 2013. The number of 700 galleries includes only galleries we assume to pursue the goal of gaining profit from their gallery activities, even though some of these galleries might not actually generate enough profit from their activity as gallerist. Many galleries can only exist with the (financial) support of friends, family or spouses or with additional jobs or incomes (inheritance etc.). Without applying the criteria named above, we estimate a total of about 1,000 galleries in Germany. When adding project and off spaces, which are most prominent in Berlin , Hamburg and some other bigger German cities, there are some additional 200 art spaces in Germany. These spaces may operate like galleries in that they organize exhibitions and often offer art mediation programs, but have an explicit self-understanding of not being ‘market-oriented’. However, these experimental spaces contribute a lot to the cultural livelihood of their city.

Focus on Contemporary Art
72 percent of the participating galleries ‘exclusively’ focus on contemporary art. An additional 21 percent ‘mostly’ focus on selling contemporary art. We are thus dealing with galleries whose self-understanding is that of a contemporary art gallery. We excluded art dealers who focus mainly on the secondary market, i.e. the trade with art.
Asked about the range of activities of the gallery, 25 percent said they also pursue transactions in the secondary market. The transition between primary and secondary market activities has shown to be smoother than expected. In background interviews and conversations, a considerable number of gallerists describing themselves as ‘primary market dealers’ told us that they also pursue secondary market transactions from time to time. The reasons and motivations for these secondary market trades are multiple: Some galleries co-finance exhibitions with young artists or experimental formats such as installations and performances, others invest in exhibiting at art fair etc. The percentage that secondary market sales contribute to a gallery’s annual sales is difficult to identify. Many gallerists we talked to named quotas from 20 to 30 percent of their annual turnover they generate with secondary market activities.  For many galleries, secondary market activities are not an option: Either, because they do not have the necessary capital or contacts to acquire tradable artworks or it is because the artists they represent are not (yet) relevant for the secondary market. 

Galleries Run By One Generation
On average, a German gallery is about 15 years old. More than a quarter are not older than five years (27 percent), three quarters not older than 25 years (78 percent). Only about three percent are older than 50 years. Consequently, galleries are mostly operated for just one generation. There are several models for the establishment of a new gallery: Sometimes, a son or daughter takes over a gallery space, often bringing in their ‘own’ artists and programs. Another arrangement is to found a new gallery from within an existing gallery, often with the help of the older gallery owner as a kind of mentor. In Berlin, many artists have continued the gallery business after the German reunification which had originally been a more experimental project or off space.
About 90 percent of the galleries are run by one person. 38 percent of gallery owners are female, 62 percent male. There are examples of female gallery owners like Berlin-based Tanja Wagner who start to do exhibitions focusing on female positions in order to reduce the stereotypes that ‘there are no strong female positions’. Establishing female artists and role models in the art world is a great beginning to tackle the underrepresentation of women in art-related jobs.  

Exhibition Space
A gallery has an exhibition space of approximately 160 sqm. In all of Germany, galleries are presenting contemporary fine art on over 112,000 sqm. The exhibition space of top-selling galleries is bigger than that of galleries with smaller turnovers.

Over 11,000 Artists In German Galleries

According to our survey, each German gallery represents around 16 artists. For all 700 galleries, this adds up to over 11,000 artists being actively represented in German galleries. About a third of the represented artists are local / from the region (37 percent), 63 percent are from other parts of the country or from abroad. In Berlin, the quota of regional artists is higher (48 percent), likely due to the overwhelming number of over 5,000 artists living in the city. The galleries represent 55 percent of ‘emerging artists’, i.e. artists at the beginning of their professional career (up to five years after their diploma at an art academy or college) and 45 percent ‘established’ artists. Galleries with lower annual sales (up to 50,000 Euros) tend to represent more local or regional artists (50 percent) and ‘emerging artists’ (72.5 percent).
A striking number occurs in the gender distribution of represented artists: Only 25 percent of all represented artists in galleries are female, 75 percent male. We have dealt with the gender inequality in the art market and art production in a separate article published before this study. Although the number of female artists graduating from art colleges has constantly been higher than males graduates over the past years, they are gravely underrepresented in galleries. The reasons for this imbalance, like male-centric structures of the art system, lack of assertiveness of female artists, lack of a system of childcare allowing female art workers to work etc., would require a more detailed discussion than is intended here.

4,000 Contemporary Art Exhibitions For 1.5 Million Visitors
On average, a gallery organizes about six exhibitions during one year. For all of Germany, this adds up to 4,000 contemporary art exhibitions per year – theoretically more than 10 new exhibitions per day! The numbers of visitors fluctuates enormously: Some galleries have detailed counts of visitors, others give rough estimations. 1,000 visitors per year was the most frequent answer. With an average of 2,400 visitors per year, German galleries attract over 1.5 million visitors each year for all of their activities: Openings, artist talks, lectures etc. In a ‘normal’ week without special events, galleries count around ten visitors each day or 66 visitors every week.

Collecting data on the number of workplaces in galleries is complex. In our survey, we enquired about gallery owners, employees with full social benefits, freelancers and interns in full-time equivalents (added workload for full-time employment of one year, even if distributed among various part-time jobs). Similar to the number of visitors, the answers given by galleries fluctuate gravely. Some galleries provide very detailed numbers, others vague estimates. On the basis of such imprecise data, forecasts bear the danger of being equally imprecise. Based on the desktop research we conducted, we calculate the number of gallery owners to be around 1,000. In relation to the total number of 700 galleries, this means that many galleries are run by more than one owner. Furthermore, we assume a number of 500 employees that are subject to social insurance. This figure is surprisingly low and means that by far not every gallery has employees. Furthermore, the figure of employees illustrates the variety of business and organizational models galleries operate in: Many galleries function as a ‘one-human-show’ without many fix costs in personnel or insurance, others employ over ten people. Besides, there are a lot of (paid or unpaid) freelancers and (paid or unpaid) interns in the art field: Our estimations are at 1,000 persons or more affiliated with galleries, but not necessarily making a living off their work in the gallery.

Art Fairs
On average, each German gallery has exhibited at 1.9 fairs in Germany or abroad in the past year. Top-selling German galleries exhibit at up to ten art fairs all over the world within one year, smaller galleries at one or two. Art Karlsruhe, Art Basel and Art Cologne are most frequented by German galleries, followed by Art Berlin Contemporary (abc) and Preview Berlin Art Fair. Thus, five German-speaking fairs make up the first five places of most frequented art fairs. About 20 German galleries attend fairs like fiac Paris, Frieze New York, Frieze London or Viennafair.
There is little information available on the percentage of sales generated at art fairs. Some art fairs advertise with statements of famous gallerists who have generated great sales, but do not publish exact turnovers generated during the fairs. Gallerists we spoke to in the context of this study, estimated the turnover generated at art fairs between 60 to 80 percent of their annual sales. This shows the importance of art fairs, not only to introduce new positions and make new contacts with collectors, but also to secure a level of income that might not be attainable only with sales from the local collectors.

Sales – An Opaque Field

Prior to the release of our study, gallery owners, journalists and art market experts were most interested in the figures on annual sales. During our conversations and interviews with gallerists, the ‘middle-class galleries’ were often topic of discussion. Understandings of what a ‘middle-class gallery’ actually is, are very diverse: Some gallerists suggests galleries with an annual turnover of 250,000 Euros as being ‘middle-class’, others say more than 500,000 Euros, again others locate ‘middle-class galleries’ in a sales category between two and five million Euros. The variety of these answers illustrates how differently the term is interpreted and used. Depending on the frame of reference, one can compare a ‘middle-class gallery’ with those few German galleries in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne or Düsseldorf that make two-digit turnovers every year, but one could also compare them to international big players like Zwirner or Gagosian. If you used the latter as a reference, basically all German galleries would be ‘middle-class’.  
In the following, we will sketch the specific challenges ‘middle-class galleries’ are confronted with. With regards to sales, we roughly define German ‘middle-class galleries’ in the segment between 200,000 and 500,000 Euros. Some of the aspects we bring forth also concern bigger galleries, but those galleries ideally have a stabilizing basic capital to balance (economic) uncertainties. Smaller galleries might also be dealing with the same difficulties, but are affected in a different intensity because they have lower fix costs (little or no personnel, little or no art fair exhibitions, few or no employees). With annual sales below 200,000 Euros, a gallery is facing the hardship to nurture the gallerist and the artists on steady basis.

Challenges Of ‚Middle-Class Galleries‘

Firstly, ‘middle-class galleries’ have difficulties in planning on a long-term basis because their income situations can never guarantee long-term stability. In this situation, one art fair with only few sales can ruin the whole business. For smaller galleries, this volatility is lesser because some of them might not even attend art fairs. Secondly, ‘middle-class galleries’ see themselves responsible towards an organizational structure of employees and rented facilities; smaller galleries likely have few or no employees that depend on the gallery job as a steady income. Thirdly, ‘middle-class galleries’ are highly dependent on a small group of collectors. Smaller galleries tend to have more one-time and spontaneous clients and in general, deal with more affordable sums. Top-selling galleries do not have to worry much because their artists are internationally known and bought. In ‘middle-class galleries’, the personal relationship between collector and gallerist might actually be most important. Fourthly and lastly, ‘middle-class galleries’ face the constant challenge that ‘their’ artists might leave the gallery for another, bigger gallery. The investments, material and immaterial, a gallery has put into an artist’s career remain without return.  

About 450 Million Euros Total Turnover In German Galleries

In order to estimate the general annual turnover in galleries, we established the following sales categories:

  • About 60 percent of German galleries generate less than 200,000 Euros annually. They make up six percent of the total annual turnover. On average, a gallery in this sales category generates 64,000 Euros per year.
  • About 25 percent of German galleries generate between 200,001 and 500,000 Euros annually and make up 13 percent of the total annual turnover. On average, a gallery in this sales category generates 335,000 Euros per year. 
  • About 15 percent of German galleries generate more than 500,000 Euros annually and make up 81 percent of the total annual turnover. Galleries in this sales category generate about 3.5 million Euros a year. 

In Germany, we estimate a total turnover of about 450 million Euros. This would mean an average annual turnover of 640,000 Euros per gallery. However, if we look at the sales categories separately, we see that galleries with a turnover of less than 500,000 Euros (which concerns 85 percent of all German galleries) only have an average annual turnover of about 145,000 Euros. In conclusion, we see that a large amount of galleries (85 percent) generate a comparatively small part of the total annual turnover in Germany (19 percent). Some few top-selling galleries, whose annual sales are fluctuating (depending on the shows they organize) account for over 80 percent of the total turnover. In all of Germany, we assume around 50 galleries whose annual sales are higher than one million Euros. About 20 of these galleries are located in Berlin. The differences between those top-selling galleries are also remarkable: Some will earn two or three million Euros, others make up to 20 million Euros. But just as in the other sales categories, there is little information about the exact turnovers of top-selling galleries so that we can only rely on plausible estimates. In Berlin, the internationally known gallery Contemporary Fine Arts (CFA) published their annual sales of 13 million Euros for the year 2011 in the electronic balance tool Bundesanzeiger.   Customer StructureMost customers come from parts of Germany (72 percent), from the region (69 percent) and other parts of Europe (45 percent). Customers from outside of Europe, especially Asia and Middle East, are not (yet) playing a significant role. About 60 percent of the galleries with annual sales up to 50,000 Euros generate most of their sales with local collectors. More than a quarter of the top-selling galleries (over 500,000 Euros annual sales) generate most of their sales with collectors from outside of Europe. With regards to the most important customer group, most sales are generated with private collectors (37 percent) and long-standing clients (34 percent). Online purchases generate only six percent of the total sales. Locational FactorsWhy did a gallery choose its current location and what keeps it there? On a scale of 0 (‘very unimportant’) to 1 (‘very important’), galleries indicated that a high density of galleries (0.9), affordable rent prices and a good availability of real estate (0.8 each)  and a lively art scene (0.8) are highly important for galleries. Local collectors are more important in Southern Germany which is wealthier than, for example, Berlin. Berlin, however, is still highly attractive for the establishment of new galleries or opening of gallery branches. The city not only benefits from its image as no. 1 production site of contemporary art, but also from a high level of funding for the arts: in comparison to the other Länder, the Land of Berlin invested an average of 176 Euros per capita on culture in 2009; the national average was at 97 Euros.Public funding is a controversial issue. On average, public funding is not seen as particularly important (0.5). Additionally, the criteria for the funding of galleries are rarely clearly defined: Should young galleries be supported to attend art fairs in order to represent Germany’s ‘young face’? Should only galleries with an explicit focus on art mediation be funded? Or should there be a general and structural financial support for art galleries? The answers and opinions on these questions vary greatly and should be discussed in the aftermath of this study. Painting Sells BestBesides painting which by far ranks highest, sculpture, drawings and photography are represented most often in German galleries. Performances, installations and media art are less often represented. The reasons for that are multiple: On the one hand, performances and installations are difficult to sell because they are sometimes not tangible objects, on the other hand, if sold, they can be costly and it is uncertain how their value develops. Interestingly though, many prestigious galleries exhibit installations anyways – because those formats are discussed in newspaper features and reviews, and stimulate the discourse about new developments and also, bring prestige. The following chart illustrates which genre generates the largest percentage of turnover:

45 percent of the galleries sell a ‚typical‘ painting between 1,000 and 5,000 Euros:  

Gallery Activities

Galleries are engaged in a variety of activities: All of the galleries are engaged in primary market transactions; about a quarter of all galleries indicate that they are also engaged in secondary market activities. Art consulting, transactions with other galleries on a commission basis and events such as lectures and artist talks are also frequent activities of galleries. It is interesting to note that these latter activities, that can be very time-consuming, usually do not influence (let alone increase) the income of a gallery. They do however create offers for the public and generate debate and interest in contemporary art.
Furthermore, we asked about the most relevant activities with regards to a gallery’s income: On average, 89 percent of the galleries generate their main turnover with primary market sales, consulting and secondary market sales are the main sources of income for four percent of the galleries each. As mentioned above, information about the percentage of turnovers generated by secondary market sales is difficult to gather. Some galleries pursue secondary market transactions in order to finance exhibitions with young artists or experimental formats such as installations or performances.

Do Galleries Co-operate Too Little?
Galleries have most intense co-operations with private and corporate collections and public institutions like museums or Kunstvereine, i.e. member-run art associations. About two thirds of the galleries say that they work together with other galleries from Germany; about half of the galleries have co-operations with other galleries in Europe. Regional co-operations rank third. Co-operations with galleries from Latin America, Middle East and other parts of the world are less common. The intensity of co-operation increases as sales increase: Galleries with higher annual turnovers co-operate most intensely with private and corporate collections. Galleries with turnovers below 200,000 Euros annually mostly work together with other galleries and public institutions.

About 55 percent of German gallery owners assume that their sales will remain more or less the same during the current year (in comparison to 2012). More than a quarter of the galleries expect a rise in sales (28 percent). Due to a strong desire to be unique and original, many galleries do not see a need to organize as a collective interest group. However, despite all personal and aesthetic disagreements, galleries should fight for the goal they all share: maintaining political, legal and tax-related conditions necessary for international competitiveness.

The goal of this study is to create an instrument for self-reflection of the gallery context. We hope to invite gallerists and their social environments to discuss the challenges and chances for the future of their field with concrete figures at hand. We believe this discussion should be a critical, but constructive dialogue. There is no guarantee (and maybe not even good reason) to believe that the situation of art galleries in Germany will improve after the financial crisis of 2008. The rising tensions concerning the legal provisions for galleries in Germany (rise of VAT, rise of ‘Künstlersozialkasse’-fees, i.e. the German social insurance fund for artists and creative workers) affect their international competitiveness in an international art market context. With regards to countries like the USA or Switzerland, who for example do not have limitations on resale rights, German and European galleries might enter a difficult competition.

Undoubtedly, galleries create a cultural and symbolic value for society. But this value is hard to describe, empirically grasp or quantify. However, galleries and their advocates have to be clear about what they are fighting to protect – only if they can articulate what they believe is worthy of support and funding can we start to think about structures of co-operation and support to sustain these values. For example the online market, which galleries seem to be skeptical about – in contrast to other creative industries like the books or music market – will play a decisive role in imagining future forms of business and selling models. Here lie opportunities to acquire new customers and sell art, also (and maybe especially) for ‘middle-class galleries’ which have not yet been explored. We are just at the beginning at imagining these models.