Why Are People Reluctant To Visit Art Galleries In The UK? 2

Why Are People Reluctant To Visit Art Galleries In The UK?

Why Are People Reluctant To Visit Art Galleries In The UK?

A new survey has found that one in five adults has never been to an art gallery, because they are worried that it might be too stuffy, posh, or boring. Farming Life reports that the study of 2,000 adults has found that 40 per cent of respondents felt that galleries should be fun and informal places with interactive installations.

The survey was commissioned by Gala Bingo, who have launched a free pop-up gallery with a bingo theme in Manchester this month. The survey was designed to identify common misconceptions about art and galleries, and to discover the reasons why people don’t visit them.

The study found that 29 per cent of people were concerned about finding a gallery boring; a further 29 per cent thought they were only for older people; 31 per cent believed you had to be quiet in a gallery; 14 per cent were worried about not being able to understand what they were looking at; and 13 per cent thought galleries were too stuffy or formal.

Among those respondents who did enjoy visiting galleries, the survey revealed that they visit on average four galleries per year and have five pieces of art in their homes. They also enjoyed the peaceful environment of a gallery, and found them inspiring both creatively and intellectually. 

Sara Jolly, head of brand at Gala Bingo, said: “It’s interesting to see the different perceptions of art galleries. Art galleries are not exclusive clubs for the elite, they are open forums for creativity and expression. Anyone can walk through those doors and connect with the beauty and diversity of art.”

“Contrary to the misconception that art galleries are reserved for a select few, they are welcoming spaces where individuals from all walks of life can explore, appreciate, and find inspiration. Our ‘Galary’ aims to poke fun at high-concept, fine art, to prove that all galleries aren’t stuffy but can be sensory playgrounds that will bring a smile to people’s faces.”

She added: “The All The Calls Galary opens its doors in Manchester, for one weekend only, to anyone over the age of 18. From pictures and sculptures to interactive and immersive pieces, it will showcase art in all its forms to shine a spotlight on the 90 bingo calls at the heart of our community.”

According to BBC Science Focus, there are psychological factors at work that may discourage people from making spontaneous decisions to drop into an art gallery. If it is a quiet time of day and the gallery is empty, this can discourage potential visitors from entering. 

This may be due to a primitive instinct that evolved to help early humans avoid predators. Humans have natural social instincts, and if an area was deserted there may have been a good reason for this, such as the presence of toxins or a hungry beast lurking around the corner. A crowd of people lets us know that an area is safe to enter.

Although these reasons would hopefully not be relevant to an art gallery, it may be other fears such as those revealed in the survey that are holding people back. They may consider it to be too exclusive, too expensive, too quiet, or are concerned they would feel obliged to buy something. 

What types of art galleries are there in the UK?

The survey didn’t offer any distinction between different types of gallery, but it can help to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about galleries by taking some time to understand the differences between them. Art galleries are a vital link between artists, collectors, critics, and the wider public, bringing culture, education and enjoyment.

Commercial galleries

Commercial art galleries exhibit the work of the artists they represent, and take a commission from any sales of the artist’s work. They usually represent a very select handful of artists at any given time because of the space and time required to organise and display the exhibitions. 

They allow artists to make a living out of their talents and to establish reputations and careers, and help to make art more accessible to the general public. If you are interested in purchasing artwork for your home, this would be a good place to start. The gallery may be willing to negotiate on price because this can be a very subjective issue.

The gallery will usually also carry out marketing and promotional activities, and handle the administration of the sale, possibly including the framing and distribution of sold artworks. Although those with loftier ideals about art may disapprove of commercial galleries, they are an essential way to support and nurture the artistic community.

Public funded galleries

Public funded galleries are given money through government bodies such as Arts Council England, or through charities, private trusts or foundations. Examples include the National Portrait Gallery in London, the various Tate galleries in London, Liverpool, and St Ives; and the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. 

These galleries will curate exhibitions and events that are designed to attract visitors from all backgrounds, and often include some sort of educational element such as interactive tours. They usually specialise in a particular type or art or art from a specific genre or era; or hold exhibitions to showcase an individual artist or theme.

They are often completely or partially free to enter, although most will ask for a donation. 

University galleries

University galleries are affiliated with higher education institutions but are usually open to the public as well, such as the Whitworth Art Gallery, which is part of the University of Manchester. They may focus on the link between artworks and teaching and research, or the cultural history of the area. 

Artist-led galleries

Artist-led galleries are run by artists themselves, so they have control over the exhibits and the artists do not have to pay a percentage of the sale fee in commission to the gallery owners. These galleries may receive some form of public funding, or they may be collectively funded by a group of artists, sponsors or donors.