Have you ever bought a piece of original art at an airport? It’s an increasingly popular and easy thing to do. It’s also a good deal for artists. “We have probably one of the most desirable exhibition venues in the region,” says Sharon Bates, director of the Arts & Culture program at Albany airport. “Partly because of the quality of our gallery program, but also because so many of the 3 million passengers who go through the airport each year can’t help but see the art.”
It’s also because, unlike traditional galleries where the standard commission can be between 50% and 60%, for the first ten years of its art program (1988-2008), the Albany airport took only a 30% commission on artwork sold. The commission rate was recently raised to 35%, but that’s still well below most gallery rates and any funds raised are used to help defray the cost of insuring, lighting, and promoting the regional artwork displayed. “It’s a win-win situation for everyone,” says Bates.
It’s a win-win for artists and art lovers at airports elsewhere as well. While the Nashville International Airport takes a 25% commission on art sold through its Arts in the Airport program, some airports, including those in Miami, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, regularly put potential buyers in touch with artists exhibiting work at the airport without taking any commission at all.
To find out about how this worked out to the benefit of found metal sculptor Ralph Berger and several travelers who saw his work at Asheville Regional Airport in North Carolina, see my At the Airport column, Artists find great display space – and buyers- at airports – that posted today on USATODAY.com.