The significance of the UK art and antiques sector in terms of jobs, economic generation and tax is set out in the report which British Art Market Federation (BAMF) chairman Anthony Browne will present to MPs at Westminster on Tuesday (July 18). BAMF wants to make its case in advance of Brexit negotiations.
The report, written by Arts Economics founder Dr Clare McAndrew, says the UK sector comprises 7850 businesses that support 41,700 “knowledge-based jobs”. It spends £3.3bn on ancillary services which support another 94,710 jobs a year, plays a key role in attracting high-spending tourists and contributes to the UK’s “cultural life”.
The British art market is the second-largest market in the world and dominant in Europe.
However, the report counters that in the 10 years to 2016, UK art sales have fallen by 18%, in a period when global sales advanced in value by 4%.
Browne said: “The UK has maintained its position, but there is no room for complacency. Global competition is increasing, particularly with the rapid growth of China.”
It is estimated that China has a 20% share of the international art market compared with 21% for the UK.
The value of the UK art market in 2016 was £9.2bn ($12bn), a 19% decline in US dollar terms since 2014, when the last equivalent report was produced.
Sale volumes in 2016 were hit by a reduction in the number of top-end items offered at auction – the sector fell in value by 30% (in dollar terms) – although dealer sales were said to have risen by 3%.
As part of BAMF’s steps to lobby government on Brexit priorities, Browne is making the case on trade and customs issues. The report highlights the importance of cross-border trade and that “imports into an entrepôt market such as the UK are… driven by the existence of the market itself as a centre for trade”.
In recent years, the value of art imports into the UK has varied between £2.8bn and £4.1bn, while exports have ranged between £4.7bn and £6bn.
In money terms, the British market is dominated by post war, contemporary and modern art, which makes up over half of all sales by value.
See Newsmaker in this week's issue.