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ArtsAlly founders in their Gastown office

Local art rentals come to Vancouver

Vancouverites can now rent art from local artists. ArtsAlly, a new service which launched in early November, allows users to browse…

By Elmira Kuznetsova , in Culture Feature story , on November 26, 2014 Tags: , , ,

ArtsAlly founders in their Gastown office
ArtsAlly founders Steve Krueger, Michelle Martin and Francis Pilon in their Gastown office.

Vancouverites can now rent art from local artists.

ArtsAlly, a new service which launched in early November, allows users to browse their collection online, learn about the artists and order artworks to be delivered to their home.

“We found there are brilliant tools for artists in big cities, like Rise Art in London and Artsicle in New York – both offering rental services. There definitely was a gap in this field in Vancouver,” said Michelle Martin, the founder of ArtsAlly.

The two-month-old company will join a group of some 60 Vancouver businesses and non-profits who are part of an emerging sharing economy, where goods and services ranging from cars to tools, and now art, are rented rather than sold.

The works available from ArtsAlly include highbrow fine art, ever-popular landscapes, abstract works and underground art. Pieces are rented individually, although businesses can get a rotation of artworks for a monthly fee.

Advocating for artists

The new service is free for the artists, but ArtsAlly retains part of the fee that is charged for the art rentals.

Monthly rental rates on range from $26 to $2,900.
Monthly rental rates on range from $26 to $2,900.

All of that can help artists in dealing with the time-consuming business side of their profession.

At a recent talk in the Hot Art Wet City gallery, many artists voiced distress over an increasing amount of time consumed by networking, social media and other non-artistic activities.

“A lot of artists don’t have time to pull off both. Either their art suffers, or they don’t get attention,” said glass artist Holly Cruise.

On top of renting out work, ArtsAlly will provide additional services for artists, including artist talks, workshops and online and offline artist profiles for news publications.

“I think it’s a great idea. They really do offer advice and support rather than simply putting a price tag on your work,” said artist Nathalie Reynolds, who is represented by ArtsAlly.

Art in the sharing economy

The sharing economy is booming in Vancouver.

A 2013 report, “The Sharing Project,” found three-quarters of Vancouver residents use a community organization or company to share goods or services.

But as one report author, Chris Diplock, explained, the visibility and ultimately popularity of any shared service largely depends of the kind of the service offered.

“You get an automatically big exposure when you’re working with something common like cars. But when you start getting into other areas, that might be difficult.”

Glass artist Holly Cruise on the benefits of the Terminal City Glass Co-op (2’10”)

A related challenge is entering into an already established market rather than building a new one, suggested Martin Reed, a credit-union expert.

ArtsAlly founder agrees.  “The majority of people going to galleries, shows and engaging with this industry are related to the art world in one way or another. We have to get in touch with outsiders.”

Ways to grow

While the 2013 report didn’t focus on the potential for art in the sharing economy, it did note a rising trend of shared workspaces for creative purposes.

Two years after its launch, Terminal Glass Co-op hosts more than a hundred artists under its roof
Two years after its launch, Terminal Glass Co-op hosts more than a hundred artists under its roof

One successful example is Terminal City Glass Co-op, the only glass art cooperative in Canada, comprising over a hundred artists.

One of the managers of the project, Wendy Avis, agrees there’s a great potential for sharing initiatives in the arts sector.

“We get a chance to support each other’s artistic development and to make art more accessible to more people. For example, at Terminal City, I can take classes in glass-blowing, something that I would be unlikely to be able to do elsewhere unless I was going to be a professional glass-blower.”

Martin is also optimistic about the future. She wants to keep ArtsAlly local but mulls expanding the range of services, which could include personalized art curation for a home, a business or an event.

“It’s all about exposing people to art as much as possible because they don’t know what they like until they see it.”


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