The argument was lively at this year’s ATG debate at the Summer Olympia fair, as BADA and LAPADA dealer Lennox Cato and Be Smart About Art founder Susan Mumford, disputed whether a gallery is still necessary for business in the modern marketplace.

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BADA and LAPADA dealer Lennox Cato and Be Smart About Art founder Susan Mumford at the ATG debate at the Summer Olympia fair. Photo: Chris King, http://ckpho.to

The audience played a very active part, as long-established dealers such as Brian Sinfield spoke out firmly in favour of the traditional bricks-and-mortar gallery and its importance in establishing close and trusted long-term relationships with clients, a view shared by Mr Cato.

But there was an equally firmly held view among others that the internet, fairs and temporary exhibition space could do the job just as well for many dealers without tying them to fixed premises and the accompanying costs. Such an arrangement allowed dealers to be more versatile and flexible, argued Susan Mumford.

One thing everyone did agree on was that the world was changing - private views are not the drivers of business they once were, everyone seemed to concur.

ATG Editor Ivan Macquisten, who chaired the debate, asked for a show of hands at the end, with the No vote winning by the slimmest of margins.

"I think it gave everyone food for thought," he said.