Art used on television shows gives the Burlington Art Centre a bit of a boost.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON.  March 23, 2013  How do you increase the revenue of an art centre?  Sell more art would be one answer.  Then how do you sell more art?  You have to have what people like and you need to figure out how to grow an appreciation for art and that takes time and funding.

Anne Brownell,  Corporate Enterprise Specialist at the Burlington Art Centre,  has come up with a way to get the art the BAC has in its rental inventory off the racks and out where it can be seen – and develop decent revenue for the Centre as well.

There are more than 400 paintings in the Art Rental inventory

When you see an office or a board room in a television program chances are some of the art on those walls came out of the BAC inventory.  Awhile back a colleague contacted Anne Brownell inquiring about what the BAC had in the way of art that could be rented.  As a result of that call BAC art is now seen on CTV’s Flashpoint, Cracked and Rookie Blue.

Brownell couldn’t pull the racks out fast enough – that initial contact has resulted in a tidy little business for the BAC.  The art rental and sale business contributes 30% of the revenue for the art shop.

Selling art is a complex business – people have to know you are there and they want to know that the collection has depth and consistency.

The Burlington Art Centre recently sold two painting to the Province of Ontario collection.  This came about when the mother of the curator of the provincial collection, who happens to live in Burlington, got her daughter to look at what the BAC had – and was impressed enough to buy two pieces.

Donna Fratesi, on the left holds up one of two paintings sold to the Province of Ontario collection.  Helping is Anne Brownell of the Burlington Art Centre

The province bought Jeanette Obbink’s ‘Killarney Rock’ and also Donna Fratesi’s ‘Almost Heaven’.  While these two are no longer available for rental or purchase they could have been and there is a lot more like these two in the BAC collection.

Donna Fratesi’s ‘Almost Heaven’, is now part of the province of Ontario collection.  Ms Fratesi has 24 painting in the rental section of the art gallery.  Her work is certainly popular.

There is one “gotta” to all this – you must be a member of the Burlington Art Centre.  That’s another good deal: A family membership is $120; Individual $105;  and Seniors $85.

That membership gets you a reduced price on every event and a 10% discount on all your purchases.

Corporate memberships are also available – $250 annually for those which have the added bonus of being available to every employee.  Great way for an organization to brighten up the walls of their offices.  Corporations get to rent pictures for a six month period.

McMaster University’s De Groote School of Business on the South Service road used to be a corporate member; they didn’t renew last year.  One would have thought the university, that pinnacle of culture, would be a continuing member.  Maybe business and art don’t mix?  The Burlington Art Centre is certainly showing that they do, indeed they do.

“When I paint, I aim to create a point of harmony and peace, a breathing space in our busy lives. As a landscape artist, I paint what catches my attention, either a place that takes my breath away, or the opposite - a place to catch my breath, and as to be expected, they often coincide.Every painting has a story behind it. ‘Killarney Rock’ was started on the spot, with the canvas duct-taped to a tree, as a plain air painting during a canoe trip to Killarney National Park. The painting was finished later in the studio as it was too large to finish in one sitting.

Developing a reputation and a customer base is critical to selling art.  People who buy art tend to start slowly and look to people who have a wide selection.

For those of us who live in Burlington there is an opportunity to rent art for a period of three months, hang it in your home and decide if you really like it.  You can grow your appreciation for art by renting a piece that you are really not sure about, hanging it on your home and if after 90 days you realize that the piece was not for you – you return it.  All you are out is a small rental fee.

The Burlington Art Centre has been doing things like this for the past 35 years.  They are taking space in the newest art facility in Burlington when they bring Randy Bachman to town as part of their 35th anniversary celebration.  The Shoreline Room at the BAC won’t hold the crowd they expect so they’ve rented the Performing Arts Centre for the event.  Nice to see the two organizations working hand in hand.

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