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Growth in art-related businesses from storage to insurance to art handling

Singapore's art scene in the past year has been abuzz with the third successful editions of two art fairs - Art Stage Singapore and Affordable Art Fair - as well as the opening of the visual arts cluster Gillman Barracks.
The Straits Times - February 20, 2013
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Growth in art-related businesses from storage to insurance to art handling

 

Art has quietly become big business in Singapore.

Singapore's art scene in the past year has been abuzz with the third successful editions of two art fairs - Art Stage Singapore and Affordable Art Fair - as well as the opening of the visual arts cluster Gillman Barracks which brought in a star-studded roster of art galleries ranging from New York's Sundaram Tagore to Singapore's Fost to Japan's Tomio Koyama.

And their presence has sparked a minor boom in arts-related businesses ranging from art handling to storage to insurance.

While official figures of the revenue generated by these industries is not available, the increase in the number of businesses and entry of new players points to the steady rise of such subsidiary businesses.

According to the Singapore Cultural Statistics 2012, the number of arts companies tripled from 302 in 2003 to 856 in 2011 while the number of museums doubled from 28 in 2004 to 56 in 2011.

These include leading art logistics firms such as Helutrans. In 1986, Helutrans handled less than $1 million worth of art with revenue of no more than $100,000. Today, with their presence in Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai, the group handled over $1 billion worth of art annually with a revenue of $25 million.

There are several other registered art movers and logistics firms in Singapore including Global Specialised Services, which takes care of logistics and art handling for various museums and provides art storage too; Rhema Events & Arts Services; and Lotus Fine Arts Logistics that offers a similar range of services.

The potential of the business has attracted newcomers such as private collector Mr Ong Teng Huat, who decided to open a new storage facility in Changi South when he could not find a place to store his growing collection.

Indeed, several art storage spaces in Singapore are full. This includes the state-of-the art storage facility Singapore FreePort run by a Swiss company.

Complementing these is the growing arts insurance sector as well as new entrants in the fields of art consultancy and exhibition design.

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