Transforming Spaces 2015 kicks off: Panelists explain successful visual art entrepreneurism

The 2015 Transforming Spaces season kicked off on Thursday, March 19 with two panel discussions at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB).

The first talk, titled “So money”, was led by Jay Koment and Uli Voges, who hoped to examine art entrepreneurism and developing a successful business as a visual artist. As the director of New Providence Art and Antiques and the co-founder of Transforming Spaces, Koment is no stranger to giving guidance on topics like branding, pricing and legal protection. An international art dealer, founder of the former Galeries Voges + Partner (Frankfurt, Germany) and co-founder of both VOLTA Basel and VOLTA New York, Voges is also well-versed in advising artists on developing their professional networks and building rapport with clientele and audiences.

Focusing on the strategic methods artists should use to promote themselves, Koment and Voges honed in on the visual arts economy from both international and Bahamian perspectives. Ceramicist and NAGB Curatorial Assistant Averia Wright found the talk enlightening.

“It’s an important conversation to have because, working at the National Art Gallery, we always have issues with artists and how they go about dealing with the business aspect of their careers,” explained Wright. “Money is an important part of the career, and we should be able to support ourselves through our talents rather than going through a completely different field and doing art on the side.”

The second discussion, titled “You belong here”, was led by Baha Mar Public Relations and Communications Strategist Royann Dean. NAGB Director Amanda Coulson and College of The Bahamas Dean of Liberal and Fine Arts Dr. Ian Bethell-Bennett served as panelists on the talk centered on the connection between visual arts and the hospitality industry.

The panelists touched on Baha Mar’s unprecedented focus on the local visual arts community, which has already had an effect on Bahamian artists, many of whom have been commissioned to create pieces for the mega resort. Other topics included the importance of understanding trade agreements between The Bahamas, the Caribbean and European nations.

Dr. Bethell-Bennett explained the ease with which European Union citizens are able to migrate to The Bahamas and work, compared to the process Bahamians, particularly Bahamian artists, undergo when moving to the Continent for work.

“It seems to be a one-way channel and not a two-way channel,” said COB Assistant Professor of Art Michael Edwards. “The successive government administrations sign on to these things without explaining fully to their citizens what these agreements may mean down the road.”

NAGB Director Coulson took the chance to encourage locals and private Bahamian institutions to take initiative in lobbying for change and projects that would benefit the Bahamian art community, rather than relying on government leadership.

The Transforming Spaces 2015 art tour takes place today and tomorrow, Sunday, March 22. To find out more about Transforming Spaces, visit