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More on First Fridays

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Today I received an email from our anonymous art dealer about my post titled "Where Have All The First Fridays Gone?":

In response to your comments regarding First Fridays being a "downer" lately, I thought I might add a few thoughts or considerations. Although, I will leave it up to you and the readers to figure out how to solve the problem, if it’s worth fixing.

First, I have noticed that more and more galleries are becoming active with art fairs and other out of state endeavors. I can imagine for the most part, that at least a few of the galleries that you mentioned get very busy in the fall preparing for Miami and simply do not have the resources to change their exhibitions every 4 weeks. That schedule can be very challenging for smaller galleries with one or two staff members. This might explain why some of the galleries are not changing their shows as frequently as they used to, as participation at these fairs wasn’t as popular among the Boston galleries a few years ago.

Secondly, I do think that the idea of First Fridays has grown tiresome for the SOWA galleries. When it first began, the galleries probably enjoyed sharing resources and having opening receptions at the same time. It was cheaper, easier, and a good way to guarantee that collectors would attend the openings (for the artist’s sake). However, like you, I have been attending the events since the beginning and have noticed a shift in atmosphere which has seemed to turn "opening receptions" into "open studios." I think that this mentality and perception has made the event less desireable to collectors and the galleries. While I’m sure that the galleries appreciate the attendance of everyone to some degree, if the collectors aren’t coming it can really take the wind out of the galleries’ sails (or sales). This is probably why separate "openings" are sprouting up from time to time to attract those collectors that once perused on a First Friday.

So, how do you fix this? If my second point is true, then more attendance doesn’t necessarily help the situation. The real question is, how do you get the serious collectors back into the equation? How can we can we make the event profitable again for the galleries? What will give the galleries reason to be open with a new exhibition every First Friday?

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About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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