by Chetana Andary
“Want a good investment? Follow the art!“ This is the advice from the Blooming Sky Investment blog charting how art was responsible for the increase in real estate investment value in Bushwick New York. (1). It links the staggering rise in property prices to the scale and popularity of the Bushwick Open Studios artist event, which grew from a small community event in 2006 to the largest open studio event in New York.
(1) 2012 Map of Bushwick Open & (1) 2015 Map of Bushwick Open Studios
It is a pretty simple equation for success – artists create a buzz and energy that attracts people, and as savvy investors know, where people want to be, there is growth. Art can alter the image of a place, making it more attractive, surprising and engaging. Places that harness the power of the image become more prosperous precisely because they become better known. They can do this physically through events such as Bushwick, or by sending the image viral through social media, making the art the brand image for a recognizable place identity – a place to invest in.
Quantifying this link between the value of art to an increase in property prices has previously been spurious to say the least. Now though, research undertaken by the University of Warwick in the UK suggests “that art is indeed associated with improving economic conditions of urban neighbourhoods.” Using the metadata of geotagged photographs uploaded to the image sharing platform Flickr, they found that neighbourhoods that have a higher number of art images “also have greater relative gains in property prices.” (2).
The City of New York knows only too well how to build value through a creative identity. New York strategically invests in spectacular public art, much of it temporary. One notable example is artist Olafur Eliasson’s exciting monumental artwork The New York City Waterfalls commissioned by Public Art Fund. On display for less than 4 months, it had a direct and indirect economic impact of $69 million USD (exceeding the predicted $14 million). Over 6,000 images were uploaded to social media Flickr and 250,000 videos onto YouTube in 2008. (3). Today, type in New York, Art and Waterfalls into your browser and be inspired!
Olafur Eliasson, The New York City Waterfalls (Pier 35), 2008, Commissioned by Public Art Fund
Demonstrating the extreme power of public art to draw attention to a place was proven by the phenomenal public art project produced by Artichoke in 2016. London 1666 was a realistic replica of the skyline of 17th Century London created by artist David Best. (4). Located on a barge on the River Thames, it was set alight to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London as the climatic finale of a week-long festival. With a maximum capacity for a live audience on the banks of the Thames at 50,000 people, Artichoke expanded this through digital channels to reach a staggering audience size of 3.8m viewing the burn and the wider content created reaching 6.7 million. It didn’t finish there though, as fans continued to spread the word.
According to Artprice: The World Leader in Art Market Information, 2018 had a global auction turnover reaching $1.9 billion USD. Contemporary Art was the leader – surging forward in a global frenzy for art that is about our time, our place – now.
The evidence is clear. If you are seeking the next place to invest – or build interest in your development; if you want to reach a global audience; or promote cultural tourism – invest in art that is contemporary, relevant and of its place – and the people will follow.
(1) Investment Guidance; retrieved 21/1/19 from https://www.bloomingsky.com/blog-post/2015/6/7/want-a-good-investment-follow-the-art
(2) Seresinhe CI, Preis T, Moat; HS. 2016, Quantifying the link between art and property prices in urban neighbourhoods.R. Soc. open sci. 3: 160146. Retrieved 21/1/19 from http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160146
(3) Appleseed and Audience Research & Analysis. (2008). The New York City Waterfalls: The Economic Impact of a Public Art Work. Retrieved 21/1/19 from full reference
(4) London 1666; Artichoke’s London 1666 – the story of an artwork that went viral. (n.d.) Retrieved 21/1/19 from https://www.thespace.org/resource/artichokes-london-1666-story-artwork-went-viral
Featured image: Olafur Eliasson, The New York City Waterfalls (Brooklyn Bridge), 2008, Commissioned by Public Art Fund