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Last week, we were in a fascinating discussion with 15-20 contemporary art galleries, all members of the Plus Tate network


We examined the fuzzy relationship between the ‘commercial’ (shop, café) and the ‘philanthropic’ (membership, donations) ways that visitors support galleries.


Our six insights were:


  1. Gallery shops provide an additional hook to engage visitors and to encourage loyalty

  2. Gallery visitors often make purchases with the head and with the heart; they have a more emotional connection to the gallery shop than to mainstream shops

  3. Loyal visitors who make regular small shop purchases end up contributing a large amount over the years, and might be ready to discuss a major donation or legacy

  4. Sharing information between commercial and fundraising teams is easy; building an integrated customer database is hard but would help to target offers more precisely

  5. Galleries often set up memberships to give preferential access to exhibitions, shop discounts, and so on. Might this approach cut out straightforward philanthropic motives?

  6. Limited edition artworks and prints are priced lower in the UK than the USA. Are we missing a trick? Will art aficionados pay more for exclusivity, and to support the gallery?


As usual, we are conscious of big gaps in the evidence. Next month, we will discuss with Plus Tate if further research would answer some of these questions.

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By BOP Consulting

Alex Homfray

Associate Director

Alex leads on cultural destinations and regeneration for BOP. He has more than fifteen years of experience of working with local authorities, national agencies and cultural organisations.

Alex Homfray - Associate Director | BOP Consulting

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Alex Homfray

Alex Homfray

Associate Director