ProChile’s Director Jorge O'Ryan on the Internationalization of the Local Art Scene

Dec 5, 2018 3:55PM

Image courtesy of Ch.ACO

Focused on the international development of Chilean products through sectoral brands in different creative markets, Jorge O'Ryan, director of ProChile, explains the strategy in the visual arts market, which aims to strengthen and position Chilean galleries and artists in the world. One of the initiatives being supported is Ch.ACO Art Fair, which took place from November 22nd through the 26th at Parque Arboleda Lo Curro and gathered over 60 echibitors from 15 countries. A big celebration of the arts made possible by the different entitied that have supported the project through the years. We spoke with ProChile’s director on the importance of positioning the local arts in the international circuit and the actions that will be pushed forward from here on.

1. Why is it important for ProChile that the local arts position themselves in the international arts scene?

At ProChile, our key objective is to diversify the country’s exports. In this sense, we are working hard to support the internationalization of non-traditional products and services, as those that are generated by creative industries, which have a high added value and represent 2,2% of the country’s GDP.

Visual arts are a part of this. It is a sector that has a high-quality supply thanks to its renowned artists and to a great number of contemporary artists with potentially exportable works. Their internationalization allows us to finally convey the country’s identity and culture to the world, positioning Chile’s image abroad as a country that is not only rich in copper, fruits, and wine, but also as a source of talent and innovation.

2. What was missing in order for visual arts to become a globally recognized export “product”, just as local wine, salmon, copper, and film has been for a while?

Over the course of our 44 years of work, we have confirmed that association is a key factor when it comes to going out into the world with a product or a service. Proof of this can be found in the success reached by the local film industry, which for practically a decade has had a permanent presence through filmmakers and films in the international A-class market and festival circuit under the sectorial brand CinemaChile, which is supported by ProChile. This proves that when a productive sector comes together in order to export, this has more impact than when each company does it on its own.

For this reason, for some time now, we have been calling upon representatives of the country’s visual arts field to come together, in order to work in coordination with public and private sectors and carry out an internationalization strategy. This translated into the creation of Chile’s Contemporary Art Galleries Association (AGAC) six years ago, and allowed for us to begin to work on a sectorial brand in order to position this sector as a group.

How did the need for and the conviction of supporting Chilean visual arts through the creation of a sectorial brand come about?

The first thing we detected after carrying out an investigation about the field –over ten years ago— was that Chilean artists have developed a broad offer of work, without limitations in regards to technique and formats, which has gained more and more space in the international scene over the years. For this reason, we urged them to organize themselves and to take part in missions to participate in the most important visual arts fairs in Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.

Their success at these activities, and the galleries’ motivation to form AGAC, led us to thinking of the possibility of promoting visual arts at key markets under a larger brand, relying on Chile’s image as a serious and trustworthy country. All of this was considered with the good results obtained by the other creative industry sectors that joined our Sectorial Brands program previously.

Who stands to benefit from the creation of a sectorial brand dedicated to the externalization of Chilean visual arts?

The benefit that a sectorial brand offers translates into positioning, or in other words, improvements in the remembrance of the attributes of the offer that is being promoted, in this case, visual arts. In the medium and long term, this should translate into an increase in exports from the entire sector, not only of those directly involved in the brand’s project.

In this sense, it’s important to emphasize that SISMICA seeks to benefit the contemporary art industry as a whole. This is why, from its origins, we have invited artists, gallery owners, art collector and curators to approach AGAC and ProChile, in order to join forces that will help SISMICA fulfill its goal of promoting Chilean visual arts across the world.

What other actions and initiatives has ProChile pushed forward in support of Chilean visual arts during this last time?

ProChile’s backing became stronger over the past year with the formulation of the “Visual Arts Policy 2017-2022” and the creation of a Visual Arts Internationalization Table, developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, the Arts, and Patrimony, which coordinates public and private initiatives within the sector.

In this context –along with carrying ahead with the SISMICA brand project in markets such as Argentina (ArteBA), Peru (Art Lima) and United States (Art Basel)—, in 2018 we have carried out an unprecedented plan in order to promote the internationalization of Chilean visual arts especially in markets such as Argentina, Peru, Colombia, United States and Hong Kong. Amongst other actions, this plan contemplates support for the execution of Galeria Weekend, inviting international buyers and editors from specialized media to our country.

This comes in addition to the support provided for three projects in the sector, which received funds through our 2018 Services Contest, which provides co-financing for internationalization initiatives presented by companies or associations that commercialize services.

One of the projects was presented by Isabel Croxatto Galería (ICG), in order to attend Art Central Hong Kong for the fourth year in a row, with the goal of increasing Chile’s presence in this market, along with widening the contact network that has already been established in the gallery’s previous participations. Another project was presented by the galleries Factoría Santa Rosa and Espora in order to participate in ArtLima (Perú) and Barcu (Colombia), whilst a third project consisted in the execution of a catalog for Ch.ACO Fair, which we have also supported with diffusion on specialized digital platforms.

6. How does Ch.ACO contribute to the consolidation of the gallery system and the internationalization of local visual arts?

The main capitals of Ibero-America each have at least one art fair: ArteBa (Buenos Aires), ArtBo (Bogota), Zona Maco (Mexico City) and ARCO (Madrid), just to mention a few. All of them lend visibility to their respective country in the international art circuit, inciting the interest of important art collectors or art museum directors from different parts of the world.

Over the past ten years, Ch.ACO Fair has positioned itself as Chile’s main instance for working on the circulation of Chilean art and on installing our country’s name in international art circuits, given the large number of curators, museum directors, and collectors that visit the Fair for each edition in order to get to know our artists on its premises, as well as the geographical and cultural context in which they create their work.

7. What specific actions are being taken in the short term in pursuit of encouraging the internationalization of visual arts?

At ProChile, we will keep on supporting the actions of the sectorial brand SISMICA, especially in Miami, since this is the main market for Latin American art. Without going any further, in December, nine Chilean galleries with be participating in PINTA with our support, as well as in other fairs that will be held in the context of Miami Art Week.

For next year, we intend to continue to support instances such as Ch.ACO Fair and Galeria Weekend, in order to invite relevant figures from the art world to Chile, with the goal of propelling our artists into the international sphere. We will also continue to offer support for the dissemination of our visual arts abroad through the Services Contest, which helps diminish galleries’ risks when it comes to approaching new markets.