The Financial Times explores the ins-and-outs of running an art-buying collective:
The group was started seven years ago by friends who wanted to pool their knowledge, enthusiasm and finances to build a shared art collection to hang in their houses. The idea arose after the friends went to a gallery and saw a work they all liked but could not afford individually. So they decided to start what they now call “the collective”, a group of seven households that pay £35 a month each to a shared fund to buy contemporary art. Every six months they meet to discuss the work and decide whose turn it is to hang the various pieces on the walls of their homes. The members of the London collective are passionate advocates of the concept and now advise other groups in cities including Bristol and Birmingham.
The idea is not new, according to Dick Bett, director of Bett Gallery Hobart in Tasmania, Australia, who with his wife, Carol, has been advising groups in New Zealand and Australia for more than 25 years. However, he detects a growing interest in the art collective model because of the recession – making people more inclined to share the financial risk by clubbing together rather than buy artworks individually. Moreover, he says, contemporary art has become more affordable now the bubble in the market has burst: “It’s a fantastic time to get into the art market. Now is an optimum time to buy.”
Bett says the purpose of the groups is to build a collection, learn about art and experience living with the work on your walls. Investment has to be a secondary motive or the group won’t gel and members will evaluate the pieces in terms of finances rather than artistic merit. Emma Fox, head of fine art at Webb’s auction house in Auckland, New Zealand, and who has been involved in art buying groups for the past 13 years, agrees: “If you do it for investment rather than because you love doing it, it doesn’t work.”
Buy to Share (Financial Times)