Despite booming sales in the Asian art market throughout 2008, nowhere has been immune to the ravaging effects of global recession. The Chinese art scene was devastated by the collapse in prices that saw the disappearance of scores of galleries in the first months of this year.
Hope is on the horizon however, and according to the Art Newspaper China is now witnessing the first tentative signs of recovery, underwritten by significant regional government investment in both Shanghai and Beijing. The Chinese capital and other regions are set to receive huge investments to stimulate “creative industries”—an umbrella term which includes the arts. Under this programme, said Dong Menyang, director of the Art Beijing fair, “the Beijing government has also set aside Rmb1bn ($146m) to promote cultural industry development.” Recovery is still a slow process however, and times are particularly hard for artist’s in Beijing’s troubled 798 district. Artist have been staging rent strikes in protest against the high studio fees whilst the area has also suffered a spate of break-ins, with galleries losing computers and suffering smashed windows.