Accessibility creates value.
Public art, free entry and regeneration projects require hefty investments.
But these investments are heavily rewarded. They render a society more appealing – they bring tourism, instigate redevelopment, raise awareness and encourage integration.
One of the campaigns for the new Tate Modern proclaims: ‘Art can be anything… It’s not the object that makes the art it’s the idea’.
Taking the notion of art from object/ commercial to thought/ enlightening facilitates its accessibility. The concept of scarcity is integral to value but this need not impede visibility. An object is not only significant in its possession, but also in the experiences it allows. Accessibility doesn’t need to enable replica, but rather facilitate involvement.
Art patrons fall under three generic terms: private, public and philanthropic.
‘Traditional’ private collecting stereotypes those lucky few who can permit extortionate costs of sale, shipping, insurance and display for individual purpose and benefit. These individuals generate high cash flow that, in turn, provides a stability for the field as a whole.
Yet accessible collecting, buying into the vision of an emerging artist at an early stage of their career, is also both feasible and rewarding. Introducing individuals to collecting at an earlier stage enables them to be part of the process: experience the justifiable and accessible rise of pricing and follow the artist through the various stages of their career – from beginning to peak.
Public patronage allows for those who have no means to also benefit from a sense of shared possession. Costs are not avoided, government and other funding initiatives allow for free entry and public projects, but the public can benefit without immediate incurred cost. Here, in the long run, the tax-payer should feel involved; accustomed to the presence of art within their lifestyle from an early age and aware of its multiple short and prolonged returns.
What’s stopping us bridge the gap between the two?
Art as idea promotes advancement, progress and appeal for the field. Influencers are no longer only the elite but now incorporate thought leaders and pioneers from a range of backgrounds. Artists and businessmen/women in the art world should be reinterpreted as role models rather than debauchees. Artists should be personable and their trials and successes should be available for the outside world to see. Same for art moguls: even celebrities like Larry Gagosian and Hans Ulrich Obrist painstakingly built their careers from nothing.
Identification and shared responsibility encourage interaction, collaboration and frame a reality rather than an exception.
The engagement and interaction of art in and with wider issues solidifies its cultural values. To many, this value is clear, but it must also be shared with those otherwise unaware of its benefits. Art should echo the notion of free press – a body of unadulterated information that can be selected from and interpreted at one’s own personal will.
Museums provide a perfect example of the successful transition from private to public knowledge, familiarity and benefit.
Free admission to English national museums was introduced in 2001. There are over 50 of these across England, Scotland and Wales, including everything ranging from the National History Museum, to the National Football Museum to the National portrait gallery. Different fields are not valued against each other and choice is left to the individual.
National museums without entry charge saw substantial increases to their visitor numbers with an average rise of 70%. In the first year of this implementation visitor figures to the V & A, for example, rose by 111% perfect from 1.1 million to 2.3 million.
Statistics also show that, after the introduction of free admission, audiences became more diverse. Visitors from lower socio-economic groups increased and, in turn, this increased their recommendations of these spaces to others (stats showed that 100% of visitors to the Royal Armories and the Wallace collection were prepared to recommend a visit). Involvement is moreish – the more people participate the more will follow suit.
Recent research from City University shows that the museums most ‘successful’ in terms of attendance were those that had opened new facilities. Taking the pertinent example of the new Tate, it is clear that the incorporation/ presentation of innovation is integral to bringing the public focus back to art. The curation of the new space is not pre-determined – visitors can jump in and out of rooms at their will without any negative impact on their understanding – if anything it’s encouraged.
Free admission, increased audience diversity, inclusion, curation but not instruction; new museums provide a case study for various successful methods of increasing accessibility. Their progress is a first step but by no means a complete solution. The field must echo progress within the public domain in the private sector.
At MTArt we strive to join private and public initiatives for their mutual success. We put forward a network of individuals, corporates and institutions that find shared objective in their aim to render art accessible to all.
"Thanks for the snapshot. I think art should be promoted more. This is a very good way to promote the arts.