It is almost two years since the first Covid 19 case was reported. A lot has changed between this period, with the most significant shift being the embracement of digital ecosystems and remote work. Notably, the pandemic has affected the day-to-day operations of various industries, including the corporate world, hospitality, and the art sector, to mention a few.
While the adverse effects have been felt across the board, the art sector took a great hit following the closure of most art galleries and museums throughout 2020. According to statistics by The Art Newspaper, the industry experienced a 77% drop in activity. The number of visitors at the Louvre in Paris (the world’s most popular museum) witnessed a drop from 9.6 million to barely 2.7 million in 2020.
What Next for the Creative Industry?
With the world gradually resuming normalcy, the art industry has started breathing afresh. But for how long? A new covid variant ‘Omicron’ is now threatening the progress made within the past year. Though it is still early to predict how art galleries and museums will be affected, some countries have already taken measures to limit movements across their borders. It goes without saying, this industry might be in for another rough season.
However, the big question is how can creatives adapt and thrive in a world where lockdowns seem to be forming the status quo? Well, the answer lies in integrating their work with digital ecosystems such as the Non-fungible token (NFT) market. This growing cryptocurrency niche is fast emerging as a pillar stone in the art industry.
Ideally, NFTs enable artists to represent their creative work on a blockchain network, making it possible to monetize the art through traditional and decentralized art markets. This ecosystem has been gaining a lot of traction in the past few months, with prominent Hollywood celebrities, athletes, and billionaires such as Mark Cuban taking a keen interest.
NFTs present a new dawn for art galleries and museums. The industry has grown to feature millions worth of NFT sales from prominent artworks such as Beeple’s, Everydays – The First 5000 Days, which sold for $69 million at a Christie’s auction back in March. Other traditional art gallery markets, including Sotheby’s, are also moving to offer NFT collection sales.
While these long-standing art brokers are seizing the NFT opportunity, their centralized nature has attracted criticism from various stakeholders. For instance, the co-founders of Assembly art gallery, Ashlyn Davis Burns and Shane Lavalette, told Decrypt that NFT projects built on decentralized ecosystems will likely attract more artists to the NFT space,
“There is a desire to develop digital experiences that actually feel less transient, hence the blockchain as ‘permanence’ and the notion of provenance in the digital space,”
“Surely, we will see more digitally native art find a home at NFTs, as well as artists working to develop more projects that respond to NFTs and blockchain as a medium in and of itself,”
A New Dawn; Decentralized Art Galleries
As mentioned earlier, the world is now a digital hub, from the emergence of remote work to crypto assets which are being used as a mode of payment. While this paradigm shift has caught up with more industries, some of the approaches such as selling NFTs through decentralized art galleries defy the very fundamentals of a decentralized ecosystem.
Thanks to the innovative nature of crypto stakeholders, artists looking to monetize their work through NFTs don’t have to go through centralized brokers. This nascent sector has given rise to NFT projects such as Starly, an NFT launchpad, and marketplace that allows creatives to build economies around their gamified NFT collections.
The starly ecosystem adds value to the NFT market through a gamified model that features randomly generated collections with three different rarity classes. Essentially, creatives can leverage this platform to monetize their social presence, exposing fans to a gamified experience of their NFT collections.
Unlike centralized NFT collection sales, Starly allows anyone to participate in the collection of newly introduced artwork. Furthermore, the collectors can sell their acquired digital collectibles on other NFT marketplaces without going through an intermediary. This NFT ecosystem is one of the few examples that are shaping the future of decentralized art galleries.
Going by the adoption rate, it seems that the odds are tilting in favor of decentralized NFT markets. Nonetheless, traditional art galleries have indicated an intention to be part of the NFT market as it grows bigger. The head of digital at London’s House of Fine Art gallery, Jake Elias, is one of the stakeholders who believe traditional galleries have a significant role to play in NFT adoption,
“The only way art NFTs are going to carry on growing and people are going to carry on buying, and collectors from the traditional space are going to move in, is if the top galleries are involved.”
As the new world order comes into action, it is crystal clear that decentralized ecosystems will largely dictate the future. This goes for most existing industries, with art galleries and museums standing a big chance to change the narrative of physical art auctions. While some die-hard art enthusiasts may take a longer time to accept the change, statistics and general sentiment are showing that NFT adoption is inevitable.
That said, there is a lot to be done in terms of educating the masses on the value proposition of digital collectibles. Only this way can the world embrace digital art and virtual museums to thrive during uncertain times like the one we are currently living in.