In a survey taken by the exhibitors at the London Art Fair 2017, 49% believe ensuring free movement of people and goods within the EU is the most important thing the UK government can do to ensure London remains a global art hub post-Brexit. The London Art Fair, which is on this week, showcases the best Modern British and contemporary art with 129 UK and international galleries exhibit at the Business Design Centre in Islington from 18-22 January 2017. 51 of these galleries responded to last week’s questionnaire.
Asked about the implications of the Brexit vote, nearly half of galleries surveyed (49%) believe that ensuring the free movement of people and goods within the EU is the most important thing the UK government can do to ensure London retains its status as a global art hub post-Brexit. The second greatest concern is maintaining the current low tax status for importing and exporting goods, identified as a priority by 45% of exhibiting galleries.*
‘Our exhibitors are used to riding out the ups and downs of the economy’ – Sara Monk Director LAF
The galleries surveyed are marginally more positive about the art market than the general economy over the next year, although there is uncertainty about both. Asked how the British economy will fare in 2017, more than half of the galleries surveyed (58.8%) believe it will get worse. However, under half of the respondents (47%) believe that the art market during the same period will fare worse, reflecting greater confidence that the art world will weather any economic turbulence. An optimistic 14% believe that both will get better and another 39% believe the art market will remain the same.
Sarah Monk, Director of London Art Fair said: ‘Our exhibitors are used to riding out the ups and downs of the economy – the art market weathered the most recent recession well – so we’re not too worried about the immediate impact of the Brexit vote. Uncertainty immediately following the referendum may have led some collectors to pause for thought last summer, but what we are hearing is that this has been balanced out in the latter half of the year by strong interest in quality Modern British art and international collectors taking advantage of the weakened pound. Experienced dealers know that good work will always sell.’
‘Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, it is important that London maintains its competitiveness as a global art hub – whether through providing the right conditions for import and export of goods or ensuring free movement of talented people who work in the sector.’
Matthew Travers of Piano Nobile commented: ‘In the short term Brexit hasn’t made much of a difference to the global art market. 2016 was a good year for Modern British sales, helped by interest in private collections such as David Bowie, and the market remains buoyant. London is an international hub of the art world and the government should not jeopardise that. The concern is a loss of market share to other global cities – we need to make sure that the UK remains highly competitive.’
Zavier Ellis of CHARLIE SMITH LONDON said: ‘There might be hesitancy in the market while Brexit is resolved, but there are still people who want to collect and buy good art. There is certainly no hesitancy from the US and with a weakened currency, we’re in a good position to be exporting. We just have to have to keep getting out there. We would want the government to retain free movement of goods in the EU and it is imperative to avoid extra tariffs, tax liabilities, and administration.’
London Art Fair 18-22 January 2017 (Preview Evening 17 January) Business Design Centre, Islington, N1 www.londonartfair.com