Fortune magazine ran a brief report on ARCO using the Spanish fair’s fortunes as a measure of the local economy:
Spain’s art world was whiplashed by the country’s bubbly rise and quick collapse. The Spanish art market grew 200% between 2002 and 2007, from 160 million to 480 million euros, only to crash to 271 million euros in 2009, according to a study led by Clare McAndrew, founder of research firm Arts Economics, for Barcelona’s Arte y Mecenazgo foundation. The market has recovered only slightly since, hurt in part by the government’s increase of its VAT (sales tax) on art works from 18% to 21% in 2012 (up from 16% in 2010). […]
In 2003 and 2004, ARCO’s visitor numbers hit a high of 200,000 people annually, but this number fell to 127,500 in 2012 and an estimated 100,000 this year. And big Spanish institutional buyers — especially ones dependent on government support — have cut their spending. Take the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which trimmed its ARCO budget from 927,762 euros in 2010 to 700,000 euros in 2012, 318,999 euros in 2013, and 204,625 euros this year. […]
Idoia Fernández of Galería Nieves Fernández, for one, was saddened by the disappearance of the middle-class buyers who used to buy art at the fair on weekends.
“The market of younger professionals who would buy art instead of a 800 euro TV has disappeared,” said Fernández, who had sold three pieces valued between 2,000 and 14,000 euros when we talked the first day. “We’d extended the market to them in Spain, but it’s disappeared. Which is a shame. We had made buying art much more normal.”
Reading Spain’s economy through art sales (Term Sheet)