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Weighing the value of contemporary art in killer-grams

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Weighing the value of contemporary art in killer-grams

Picasso didn’t post, Richter never re-grammed and Titian wasn’t on Twitter.

If you were to compile a list of industries that people associate with the social media age, I suspect that art would feature somewhere near the bottom. It is a sector steeped in history and tradition and has been one of the most lucrative markets for centuries. But for all of the prestige and class associated with the art market, it is not a sector synonymous with technological advancement nor transparency.

David AiuServan-Schreiber

David AiuServan-Schreiber

Determining value in the world of art has never been easy, often due to a perception that one requires insider expertise. Even now with the full power and access to information online, outsiders can feel intimidated by the $67bn global art market. Investors have looked on art as an opaque sector and investment into it as the subjective and emotive preserve of the wealthiest people in society.

The rise in social media might be the catalyst to change that.

The art market is democratising and the profile of people who collect and invest in art is changing dramatically.

I am represented by MTArt Agency, the world’s first talent agency for up and coming visual artists. They do a fantastic job building my profile in the art world and diversifying my revenue streams by placing my works with collectors, auction houses, and galleries, as well as, securing brand partnerships. They have secured partnerships with Pomellato jewellery stores, placed my work in Sotheby’s summer exhibition, the Zari Gallery, and Rosewood Hotel in London.

This is the direction art is heading in. Galleries are still crucial for the industry, but two in three galleries in the UK are losing money. The future of art is taking artworks to people rather than waiting for people to come to the art. This is changing the way we experience art and increasing the importance of tools like social media to engage new audiences.

The visual and immediate nature of an online platform such as Instagram suits art perfectly. For an artist, it creates a relevant window through which to exhibit your work to people who may otherwise not see it.This is something that my agent, Marine Tanguy, and I try to capitalise on. There is a new generation of artists, art-enthusiasts and collectors emerging. They are typically millennials who are technologically literate, consume their news online and are social-media savvy. Art investment has not traditionally been associated with younger people, but there is now an opportunity to tap that market and target younger potential collectors.

In the case of Instagram, 600 million people are on the platform and 60% of them use it to seek out and discover new products.Of those 600 million people, 90% are under the age of 35. This is a demographic of people hungry for visual content and keen to acquire new things.

Now consider the way people are organized on social media platforms: people exist in online communities where they share their passions and views with their followers and network. It’s fair to assume that if they find and buy a product they like, they will share that with their network who will see it and are likely to also appreciate it.

What is particularly exciting for me is the opportunity to find like-minded people of a similar age who will appreciate the message behind my artworks and connect with them directly. My work addresses the importance of preserving and protecting the environment and through social media I can quickly find networks of people who care about the same causes and share my values. In contrast, most galleries will not make the introduction for collectors to artists, leaving a void in the ability to forge a relationship. Social media has created a digital word-of-mouth effect for the art industry. If the right person invests in me and purchases a piece of my art, and in turn puts a picture of it on their feed, there is high potential for it to be seen by other people who will be interested in my work as well.

Artists are increasingly seeing the possibilities of social media. The days of waiting for people to come into a gallery, view your art and then buy it are becoming a way of the past. Now I can directly target people who I know are interested in art and care about the environment. This means I can sell my art to more people and it also means that as I make more sales the value of my artworks increases.

Joining MTArt Agency and exploring this gap in the market has led to me selling 34 paintings in eight months and the average value of my sales to appreciate by more than 400%.

While this is exciting for an artist, it is also creating an entry point to the market for prospective collectors. Many have become frustrated about the lack of transparency through traditional avenues of purchasing art and they can now search for an artist they like online, message them directly to develop a relationship with them and get an idea of their personality and work rate. Through Instagram, it is also easier to get a sense of an artist’s success. In a gallery there is no way to “scroll” the history of the artist and see their exposure. Through social media, an interested buyer can discover their background and how much work they are being commissioned for. This transparency facilitates the ability to gauge whether an artist’s work will continue to increase in value and judge if the artist is a viable investment which evokes trust. Social media builds this trust and has enabled me to see great success as an artist.

For the first time in history, the power in art is now in the hands of the artists and the collectors directly through their online social media profiles.

David AiuServan-Schreiber is represented by MTArt Agency, the world’s first talent agency for upcoming visual artists. https://www.mtart.agency/artists/david-servan-schreiber/

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears

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Australia says no further Facebook, Google amendments as final vote nears 1

By Colin Packham

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will not alter legislation that would make Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s Google pay news outlets for content, a senior lawmaker said on Monday, as Canberra neared a final vote on whether to pass the bill into law.

Australia and the tech giants have been in a stand-off over the legislation widely seen as setting a global precedent.

Other countries including Canada and Britain have already expressed interest in taking some sort of similar action.

Facebook has protested the laws. Last week it blocked all news content and several state government and emergency department accounts, in a jolt to the global news industry, which has already seen its business model upended by the titans of the technological revolution.

Talks between Australia and Facebook over the weekend yielded no breakthrough.

As Australia’s senate began debating the legislation, the country’s most senior lawmaker in the upper house said there would be no further amendments.

“The bill as it stands … meets the right balance,” Simon Birmingham, Australia’s Minister for Finance, told Australian Broadcasting Corp Radio.

The bill in its present form ensures “Australian-generated news content by Australian-generated news organisations can and should be paid for and done so in a fair and legitimate way”.

The laws would give the government the right to appoint an arbitrator to set content licencing fees if private negotiations fail.

While both Google and Facebook have campaigned against the laws, Google last week inked deals with top Australian outlets, including a global deal with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

“There’s no reason Facebook can’t do and achieve what Google already has,” Birmingham added.

A Facebook representative declined to comment on Monday on the legislation, which passed the lower house last week and has majority support in the Senate.

A final vote after the so-called third reading of the bill is expected on Tuesday.

Lobby group DIGI, which represents Facebook, Google and other online platforms like Twitter Inc, meanwhile said on Monday that its members had agreed to adopt an industry-wide code of practice to reduce the spread of misinformation online.

Under the voluntary code, they commit to identifying and stopping unidentified accounts, or “bots”, disseminating content; informing users of the origins of content; and publishing an annual transparency report, among other measures.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye and Colin Packham; Editing by Sam Holmes and Hugh Lawson)

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback

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GSK and Sanofi start with new COVID-19 vaccine study after setback 2

By Pushkala Aripaka and Matthias Blamont

(Reuters) – GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi on Monday said they had started a new clinical trial of their protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, reviving their efforts against the pandemic after a setback in December delayed the shot’s launch.

The British and French drugmakers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter, and if the results are conclusive, hope to see the vaccine approved by the fourth quarter after having initially targeted the first half of this year.

In December, the two groups stunned investors when they said their vaccine would be delayed towards the end of 2021 after clinical trials showed an insufficient immune response in older people.

Disappointing results were probably caused by an inadequate concentration of the antigen used in the vaccine, Sanofi and GSK said, adding that Sanofi has also started work against new coronavirus variants to help plan their next steps.

Global coronavirus infections have exceeded 110 million as highly transmissible variants of the virus are prompting vaccine developers and governments to tweak their testing and immunisation strategies.

GSK and Sanofi’s vaccine candidate uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the shot, made by GSK.

“Over the past few weeks, our teams have worked to refine the antigen formulation of our recombinant-protein vaccine,” Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and head of Sanofi Pasteur, said in a statement.

The new mid-stage trial will evaluate the safety, tolerability and immune response of the vaccine in 720 healthy adults across the United States, Honduras and Panama and test two injections given 21 days apart.

Sanofi and GSK have secured deals to supply their vaccine to the European Union, Britain, Canada and the United States. It also plans to provide shots to the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme.

To appease critics after the delay, Sanofi said earlier this year it had agreed to fill and pack millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from July.

Sanofi is also working with Translate Bio on another COVID-19 vaccine candidate based on mRNA technology.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru and Matthias Blamont in Paris; editing by Jason Neely and Barbara Lewis)

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Don’t ignore “lockdown fatigue”, UK watchdog tells finance bosses

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Don't ignore "lockdown fatigue", UK watchdog tells finance bosses 3

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Staff at financial firms in Britain are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and their bosses are not always making sure all employees can speak up freely about their problems, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Monday.

Many staff at financial companies have been working from home since Britain went into its first lockdown in March last year to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

One year on, the challenges have evolved from adapting to working remotely to dealing with mental health issues, said David Blunt, the FCA’s head of conduct specialists.

“During this third lockdown, there has been a greater impact on mental well-being, with many people struggling with job security, caring responsibilities, home schooling, bereavements and lockdown fatigue.”

Bosses should continually revisit how they lead remote teams, he said.

“The impact of COVID-19 is creating a huge workload for those considered to be high performers, while the remote environment potentially makes it much more challenging for those who were previously considered low performers to change that perception,” Blunt told a City & Financial online event.

Companies should consider “psychological safety” or ensuring that all employees feel confident about speaking out and challenging opinions.

“We’ve heard varying reports of how successful this has been,” Blunt said.

Pressures in the financial sector were highlighted this month when accountants KPMG said its UK chairman Bill Michael had stepped aside during a probe into comments he made to staff.

The Financial Times said Michael, who later apologised for his comments, had told staff to “stop moaning” about the impact of the pandemic on their work lives.

Blunt was speaking as the FCA next month completes the full rollout of rules that force senior managers at financial firms to be personally accountable for their decisions to improve conduct standards.

There have only been a “modest” number of breaches reported to regulators so far as firms worry about being “tainted” but more cases will become public as sanctions are revealed, Blunt said.

“Regulators won’t be impressed by lowballing the figures.”

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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