Basically there are two types of people who support the visual arts. The first are people who support young and or emerging and/or experimental/contemporary grassroots initiatives. They will buy a work from an unknown because it just appeals to them. They might be a business who supports their local artist run center. They will visit a local and small independent gallery just for the hell of it. And chances are you’ve never heard of these people.
This is the kind of supporter everyone wants to be thought of.
The second kind, however, are supporters of the arts on a grand and usually national scale. They will support artists and galleries that are already established and already well known. They will support emerging artists if others in their peer group support the same emerging artists. Examples may include politicians or art foundations, wealthy business people (actually, usually their spouses), or heads of granting agencies. These people like to think of themselves as the first type of supporters – as people who set taste, as the ones who identify the trends. These people, and their perceptions of themselves, are very important to the economy of the visual arts so we must all keep up this pretense.
That’s the price we pay, as artists, for the promise of someday getting support if we become well-known enough to get the support.
Which type of art supporter are you?