Be Smart About Art

Art Dealers Bootcamp Contest

written by: ATG Reporter Nov. 16, 2013

Art Dealers Bootcamp Contest

BE Smart About Art (BSAA) have announced the winners in their Art Dealers Bootcamp Competition.

The London-based training and mentoring organisation advise art dealers, artists and creatives on advancing their practices and developing successful businesses, and the competition challenged dealers and would-be dealers to come up with plans that present potential as sustainable long-term businesses.

Applicants included gallerists who are already trading, art dealers operating out of home (online) and aspirant individuals with a variety of proposed business models.

“I was very impressed by the quality of entries,” said ATG Editor Ivan Macquisten, one of the judges on the panel. “It was
a mark of the high level of thought and effort put into the applications across the board that the judging panel debated vigorously right up to the end of the session as to who should win.”

The contestants were competing
for places on the three-day art dealers bootcamp to be staged by BSAA early next year as well as a raft of other prizes together worth more than £2000. Among other subjects, the training event helps lay the foundations for a career in dealing, covering topics such as finance and online marketing.

BSAA founder Susan Mumford, who advised the panel of judges, told ATG: “What I really found intriguing was

the emphasis the judges put on the importance of balancing the business side of art with the art itself.

“The profile of the judging panel brought together a wide range of

expertise that resulted in a very well- rounded assessment of the candidates.”

The eventual winners were as follows:

First Award: Ben Barsky of Manchester Creative Studio

Left: Ben Barsky, a qualified accountant, set up a fashion label after university, working closely with artists and supplying designs to Harvey Nichols and Urban Outfitters before going on to set up a website that focuses on the creative development of artists. He subsequently joined the board of an organisation looking to set up

a studio school in a large industrial warehouse in Manchester. That project has created the opportunity to open a gallery in the building’s basement where Ben aims to hold regular exhibitions, run a continuous sales programme and hold art classes for the community. He also wants to take artwork outside.

“I want to engage with the audience, the artists, the surrounding buildings, local businesses and the local community,” he told the judges. “I don’t want my gallery to be seen as just a shop that specific people with specific interest visit.” The judges felt that Ben’s dynamism, clear plan, combination of qualifications and experience,

as well as his desire to engage with a wider audience showed exactly the sort of focus and promise that they were looking for.
Work on the gallery has already begun and Ben hopes to open in the spring. He is also looking into the possibility of putting on a street art event in late summer next year in Manchester. (

Second Award: Joanna Bryant and Lyndsey Keeling of One Church Street Gallery (

Third Award: Gita Joshi of Orso Major (

THE six-strong judging panel brought together a wide range of expertise to assess the entries. As well as Ivan Macquisten, judges included:

  • Jonas Almgren, chief executive at Artfinder, the web portal for buying affordable art, who has a background as an online entrepreneur in Silicon Valley as well as being the creator of the VIP Art Fair in New York.
  • Mary-Alice Stack, chief executive at Creative Sector Services CIC, a new Community Interest Company established to support the development, growth and productivity of a wide range of organisations and enterprises operating within the cultural and creative industries. She also developed Own Art, the consumer credit scheme, at Arts Council England.
  • Francesca Fiumano, contemporary art specialist and director of the Fiumano Fine Art Gallery and Fiumano Projects, the latter a programme that focuses on presenting the work of artists who do not necessarily ‘fit’ into the traditional preconception of an artist/gallery relationship.
  • Frances Fogel, marketing consultant and in-house
  • art historian for Brownhill Insurance Group – the specialist insurance broker for the art world. Frances was responsible for the launch of the company’s new insurance solution for art dealers, and has designed a partnership scheme to help art dealer clients to grow their collector audience.
  • Keith Graham, managing partner at Westbury Accountants and business advisor, whose specialties include the art world. His particular expertise is as an advisor on financial and taxation matters to artists, galleries, collectors and other art professionals. Westbury’s Art Blog is regularly updated at

Above: the judging panel for Be Smart About Art. From far left, ATG Editor Ivan Macquisten, Mary-Alice Stack of Creative Sector Services CIC, Jonas Almgren of Artfinder, Frances Fogel of the Brownhill Insurance Group, BSAA founder Susan Mumford, art dealer Francesca Fiumano and Keith Graham of Westbury Accountants.