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If you own an art gallery, you are going to set your salary. The total amount you pay yourself from sales and revenues from consulting or other sources, if you have other revenue sources outside sales, will depend on cash flow, how good business is and your skill in the marketplace.
Your salary first is dependent on gallery revenues. If you set a salary irrespective of cash coming in, you risk deficits for your business and eventual collapse. The primary form of income is sales. Maximizing these through popular exhibitions and outreach to collectors will be your prime tasks. In addition, if you have expertise in art evaluation, you can reap consulting revenues for appraisals.
Gallery costs can be extensive. A brick and mortar gallery incurs rental charges. For business, you may have to procure a long-term lease, locking you into payments over several years. Out of your sales, typically you will receive half of the monies paid by collectors; the artist also gets half. Utilities and communications costs will take a bite from profits. You may not, in fact, log a profit for some time after opening.
Because of the difficulty in earning profits as a gallery, especially if you are just opening, you must balance your need and the owner's for income against the needs of the gallery. With a long-term business plan and adequate initial capitalization, you can continue to take a moderate salary from the business while running in the red. Over the long term, profits will be required to maintain the gallery. Even though the salary is planned, you may be forced to delay drawing a salary for some months to cover other pressing expenses.
The actual salary you draw should take all of these matters into account. For a person with means not in need of immediate salary, you can defer and plow your gallery proceeds back into the business to prolong its viability. Figure the salary you need in your business plan, and make it part of your capitalization requirement. The less you pull out for your personal needs, the more you have for business expansion through advertising, outreach and other means. The average salary for an art gallery owner is $55,000. In New York City, the average is $65,000; in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it's $51,000.
- "How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery"; Edward Winkleman; 2009
- Art Business: How to Be an Art Dealer & Open an Art Gallery
- Simply Hired: Art Gallery Owner Salaries
Bill Brown has been a freelance writer for more than 14 years. Focusing on trade journals covering construction and home topics, his work appears in online and print publications. Brown holds a Master of Arts in liberal arts from St. John's University and is currently based in Houston.