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Causal Agents or Canaries in the Coal Mine? Art Galleries and Neighborhood Change

Jenny Schuetz
Art galleries serve several important functions within the art industry. Economically, galleries are loci of arts consumption, generally focusing on visual arts such as painting and sculpture. If artists visit galleries to learn about their peers’ work, galleries may also contribute to enhanced art production . Galleries are almost always for - profit entities; the main distinction between galleries and museums is that museums typically display original art but do not offer it for sale, while galleries display art for the purpose of selling it. Like m any forms of arts production discussed elsewhere in this volume by Kushner , and Markusen , the retail art market is diffuse and highly entrepreneurial: the industry is mostly made up of small , independently owned firms (single dealer s or small partnerships ) . Although art galleries are an essential component of the overall arts industry, as economic entities they are quite different from a symphony orchestra, publicly funded museum or an independent novelist or painter. In many respects, the upper echelon of art galleries is similar to the high - end retail market : the best - known galleries are businesses whose primary function is to s e ll expensive luxury goods. Outside of the top tier, galleries resemble small businesses in other retail segments: they operate in a highly competitive industry with low barriers to entry and experience relatively high turnover.