The Beeswax Report is a semi-annual roundup of how the gallery districts are doing in New York.

2012 delivered an improvement over the previous post-Great Recession two years – 2010 and 2011 were flat at 1,488 galleries in each – with an up-tick reflected by an increase of 33 additional galleries, as illustrated in the graph below. 2013 took a few steps back, reversing the trend.

 Change in all NY galleries over the past four years.


This was worse among the small to mid-size galleries, as rents zoomed skyward faster than has the value of emerging artists’ work. The inverse relationship of the emerging art market and the commercial real estate market seems to be creating a mild case of colony collapse disorder. The bad news in summary is that at the end of 2013 there are 19 fewer galleries than there were in 2012, across the entire city. The good news is it is still not as bad as it was between 1988 and 1992, hard times notwithstanding.

The pie chart below shows the relative size of the city’s gallery districts as we enter what one can only hope will be a turn-around and stunning year in 2014.




The top gallery districts from largest to smallest are West Chelsea, the Upper East Side, Brooklyn as a whole, the Lower East Side, SoHo, the 57th Street Corridor and TriBeCa. The top three are home to about 60% of all galleries, the LES and Soho together hold another fifth, while the once-mighty 57th Street Corridor and TriBeCa combined represent less than 10% of all galleries. How far the high can fall; more on the Rise and Fall of 57th Street in another post.

The big news of 2013, other than the 19 galleries that closed their doors, was the tremendous amount of churn, as 30 galleries did the “Waggle Dance” within the same district.  During the past five years, this has been the predominant pattern: a gallery moves, another gallery moves into the first gallery’s old space, followed by a third gallery moving into number 2’s previous space, and so on. This year is a bit unique in that more galleries have moved out of one hive and into another. The graphic below illustrates this, showing the numbers of galleries that have moved across the top districts.

As you can see, you’ve been busy little bees.


The honeycomb above shows the movement of galleries across and within districts. The deep super in the center shows the Net Gain/Loss for each of the primary districts, after the galleries that went dark are factored into the equation. The number of galleries that permanently shut their doors or are operating solely as private dealers, per district, were:

West Chelsea – 26 | Upper East Side – 4 | Brooklyn – 8 | Lower East Side – 14 | SoHo – 5 | 57th Street – 4 | TriBeCa – 0 | All Others – 16

Not all the news is bad: 58 new galleries opened, which gives New York Art World that net loss of 19 galleries. Happier New Year.

The raw data are shown below. The first two columns are indicative of general “churn”: galleries that either opened a space or closed a space, but it also includes the third column, showing galleries that simply moved from one space to another in the same district. The fourth column shows movement between districts. The fifth and sixth columns tell the story of new galleries that opened and galleries that closed, for each district. Seven and eight are self-explanatory.




Here’s to making more honey in 2014.