As people around the globe turn to arts and crafts as a way to pass the time at home, those who work in the industry are scrambling to make up for financial losses due to coronavirus-induced closures. Museums and galleries have shuttered their doors, and art fairs and public events have either been canceled or postponed.
Case in point: The Dallas Art Fair has shifted from April to October and recently announced the creation of Dallas Art Fair Online.
Open April 14-23, the digital platform allows visitors to preview and purchase works from more than 80 participating galleries, including locals such as Barry Whistler, Conduit and 12.26, along with industry heavyweights like Marlborough and Simon Lee. It’s a concerted effort to salvage an annual event that has become not only an integral part of the local arts economy, but a reliably lucrative investment for international galleries and collectors.
“We depend on our loyal community of galleries and collectors, so we are offering our support by providing them with the means to digitally sell and buy works that were intended for Dallas in April. Visitors can easily click through different gallery rooms to view, reserve and purchase works on view,” says Kelly Cornell, Dallas Art Fair director.
With the industry still dominated by brick-and-mortar spaces and large-scale events, the arts have long grappled with using the digital sphere to augment traditional programming. Yet online commerce — ranging from collector-catering private viewing rooms to publicly accessible digital purchasing platforms and social media-fueled content — is a steadily growing trend, one that has increased dramatically in the last year and further accelerated with the outbreak of the global pandemic.
While it’s unlikely to ever fully take the place of in-real-life art viewing, the current situation has demonstrated just how much the field needs to cultivate a broad online presence in order to survive. It stands to reason that we are on the verge of a significant shift in the way we produce, consume and collect art.
“The silver lining here is that artists are still producing and processing what is happening,” Cornell says. “The artwork that comes out of this terrible time will be powerful and something to which all of us will have a connection.”