Week 5 of Confinement in France
We are ending the fifth week of confinement in France. On Monday, the 13th of April, French President, Emmanuel Macron in a personal, open and straight-forward speech to the nation extended the confinement period in France up to May 11th. This means a total of 8 weeks – that is 60 days – so today we are only halfway through the crisis – and only if 8 weeks is enough time to break the contagion!! There is no assurance that our galleries will be able to open as of May 11 as we are public spaces and for the moment all cultural and public spaces will still remain closed after the beginning of the “de-confinement” – possibly until July…
President Macron opened up some interesting doors in his speech, opting for new points of view on national self reliance, the economy, ecology and social issues; saying that we will all have to re-invente ourselves (himself included) in the light of how the COVID-19 crisis has changed and will continue to change the world.
The extension does not come as a surprise – actually it is a good thing because it will further help to break the contagion process and will slow the rate of hospitalizations which will free up the health-care system so that it can deal with other “normal” pathologies that have been moved to the back burner in many cases.
On the other hand, the extension of the confinement is going to cause further damage to all the small and medium size businesses which are closed to the public, have little or no income; often relying on cash-flow to keep going and yet who still have to deal with rents, salaries, social charges, loans, overdrafts etc!
Even though the French government has implemented a very good help-package, none of us can keep our noses above water for much longer. I run a small (actually a minute) business with one employee and the gallery is now closed for the last 33 days and my employee is furloughed from day one – this means I’m paying forward the salary of my employee – now according to the help-package I will in principal be reimbursed for this by the State… But when? France courageously and openly declared that the country has officially entered into a recession on April 8th. Many countries will follow or have already, I fear.
I give thanks to those far-sighted people who invented the internet in the 1950’s and 1970’s because it is the only thing that allows us to stay in touch and continue to function business wise. We will need to be open-minded, acrobatic and resilient to survive the COVID era and then we are going to have to survive the re-emergence and recovery period. It is not going to be easy…
The Impact of COVID19 to the Art Market
The art-market is suffering tremendously and it is not only the dealers, auctioneers and collectors who are having a hard time – please let us not forget the small and large businesses like the base-makers, framers, conservation and restoration specialists, shippers, photographers, publishers, printers, stand-builders and fair organizers etc. that depend on the art-market for their survival.
If I look at the numbers, my gallery works with two base-makers (one with three employees), two restorers, three shipping companies (one minute and two very large ones), there is the window washer, my insurance agents, the rent people, the IT specialist, my accountants, the company that does the lighting, and lets not forget the office supply shop, the café around the corner, the restaurants and shops that we frequent in the neighbourhood and of course my banker. All of these people depend on us as we on them and so in a quick calculation I found that my little gallery helps to support a minimum of 30 people in various professions.
And then there are the collectors! They (yes, you) need the dealers to find the pieces they wish to add to their collections and to sell the pieces they wish to dispose of. The collectors need a place to anchor themselves – a shop, a gallery, a person with the same sort of taste, who has knowledge, a solid library, connoisseurship, a touch of history and a confortable chair – a good story teller and conversationalist – a listener – someone who is available to spend time going over things, talking about the pieces in detail but also “chewing the fat”. A dealer who has the “touch”, the “eye”, and who is in for the long term – who is there to help build and maintain the collector and the collection in tip-top shape.
So we all need to work together here to save our worlds… if the collectors do not buy, then the dealers will disappear – if the dealers go, then so will the collectors. Please remember that we are all de facto members of a mutual support group!
© Anthony JP Meyer, Galerie Meyer – Oceanic & Eskimo Art, Paris
Anthony JP Meyer is an art dealer specialising in tribal art, in particular in Oceanic and Eskimo Art as states the name of his gallery: Galerie Meyer – Oceanic & Eskimo Art, Paris.