EDITORIAL: The art of the deal

The Internet has played a role in the changing face of art sales

Peporter J.R. Rardon’s ongoing series about art and the way it is being sold has been revealing.

Last Thursday’s second part of the three-part series explored the proliferation of art on display, and for sale, at local cafés and restaurants.

From the Sandbar Café in Qualicum Bay to the Courtyard in Qualicum Beach to coffee shops in Parksville, art from local talent is on the walls and for sale. Aside from the annoying little info/price tags, the works add much to a business. It seems to be a win-win situation for the artists and business owners.

Adding to those locations are other businesses like Qualicum Art Supply and, most prominently, The Old School House in Qualicum Beach and The MacMillan Arts Centre in Parksville, two important not-for-profit places that have a mandate to feature art, among other functions.

It’s difficult to see where this leaves room for private galleries dedicated to one or a few local artists.

As Rardon has explained in his series, the Internet has also played a role in the changes to the ways people view and purchase art. There really is no substitute for enjoying art with the naked eye, but if you have found an artist you like, it’s possible through the web to scan many of his/her works and perhaps purchase one, sort of sight unseen.

The proliferation of the Internet in the sale of art raises many issues. The first that comes to mind is the protection of copyright. We can understand how an artist would be less than thrilled to see pictures of his/her art being shared all over the web without a penny going into his/her wallet.

It brings back memories of the 1990s when Napster changed the music world. This file-sharing site allowed people to gather music from others without purchasing a CD. The recording companies — caught flat-footed and behind the curve when it came to the emerging power of the Internet — lost their collective minds. They sued, and won, but the battle was already lost, the Genie out of the bottle.

While we would like to see private, job-creating galleries, perhaps that day is behind us in all but the largest of cities.

Like people and businesses who sell any other product, those who create art and want to sell it have to adapt to new realities. This might not bode well for private galleries, but it’s difficult to find a television repair shop these days, too.

It’s our hope the talented people of this region who create art will always have a place to display and sell their work, regardless of the location.

— Editorial by John Harding

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