Art World Forum is an emerging global platform which aims to build valuable networks between art professionals and business leaders. They are holding two forums in Hong Kong this month. The first, on Friday 17 March, is titled ‘New Ways of Seeing’, and is being held at the Lang Yi Museum. The second,  on Thursday 23 March 2017, is being held at the Ovolo Southside and is billed as ‘South Island Art Day’. Both forums offer a selection of carefully curated discussions by art and corporate professionals. Guests will have the opportunity to network with leading professionals in the industry from across the world. They will also have the opportunity to learn more about what is trending in the art market and explore new business models which are currently being practiced in the market. Art World Forum was founded by Anna Oates and Veronica Neo. We speak to Anni Oates about Art World Forum and the upcoming events.

Anni Oates (left) and Veronica Neo, Co-founers and Directors of Art World Forum

Please introduce yourselves and what is your background? Veronica and I come from relatively different backgrounds. Veronica is a lot more business and corporate oriented with significant experience in headhunting, research, and project management for giants such as INSEAD, versus my own trajectory has catered for the arts, both as a creator for various design projects and firms, and as an agent for various marketplace platforms (galleries, fairs, media channels etc.). Having said that, what unites us are those differences and varying perspectives in the context of exploring the art market. After all, it is our company slogan “Bridging Art and Business”.

What is Art World Forum? Art World Forum (AWF) is an emerging global platform which aims to build valuable networks between art professionals and business leaders. We  provide high quality conferences for art business professionals – a generic term which caters for the multitude of players covering investors to insurers, collectors to artists, and dealers to enthusiasts. The aim is to shed light on the market’s interactions with business, financial, consumer and knowledge markets by addressing the challenges and opportunities currently affecting the industry. Other than on-the-spot content, it is most definitely a networking environment where strategic alliances may be strengthened.

How did the idea come about? Veronica and I met while working on a public arts project in Singapore. Knowing that we had a dynamic working relationship and deep-routed common ground, our persistence to find a new project was obvious. It therefore came about while casually discussing the art market, the key players, and perhaps what the marketplace was lacking.

Why did you decide to organise AWF? Through conversations we had with professionals in the field in Singapore, the region and the world, we observed a strong demand and a gap in the international market for a platform with the resources to bridge the art market and the supportive corporate sectors. Professionals were keen on exploring new ground, diversifying their reach, and claiming a say in the international art scene. Art World Forum therefore came about to address a niche within the art market.

Why Asia? We started from our base – Singapore. By combining our existing networks and familiarizing ourselves with local professionals in the area, we focused on a homegrown approach before expanding elsewhere. Maintaining and growing your brand and database is an ongoing process which requires commitment and time. As a startup, the most efficient way to start is with what you’ve got.

Tell us about the challenges you have met along the way? To date, the greatest challenge has been reaching out to the various departments of the art industry and forming alliances through open discourse. As is key to every industry and firm, sourcing and combining the expertise of established players as well as newcomers, is a balance often questioned.

Last year Singapore, now Hong Kong. Why the change of country? It has always been our mission to expand to new geographies and host international events in emerging art capitals of the world. Having hosted our inaugural conference in Singapore last year, Art World Forum gained the momentum and the support to branch out to Hong Kong. We therefore sourced for the additional interest and secured our participation in the hectic Hong Kong Arts Month by organizing two events, ‘New Ways of Seeing’ at the Liang Yi Museum, and ‘South Island Art Day’ in collaboration with the South Island Cultural District at Ovolo, Southside.

What can we expect from the forums ‘New Ways of Seeing’at the Liang Yi Museum, and ‘South Island Art Day’? Both forums, ‘New Ways of Seeing’ and ‘South Island Art Day’, address the challenges and opportunities faced by professionals actively involved in the art market. Their experience, expertise and overall understanding of the diverse art marketplace seeks to clarify the various ways in which innovation has shifted focus, tackled tactics, or re-assessed roles. With a growing number of people wearing multiple hats in the industry, learning to see beyond convention and question what is trending is precisely how it will grow.

Why did you choose these topics? Art World Forum typically starts the process with a suggestive list of topics which are of relevance to the art market. They are chosen based on conversations had with professionals in the field, excerpts read in the media, and an overall understanding of what is currently trending in the industry. From then on, the development of every topic is an interactive and collaborative process. Every speaker is then encouraged to use our forums as a platform for sharing their own perspective on a topic of their preference. They are the ones who adapt, elaborate or reject the topic of their choosing.

Future of AWF? The future of Art World Forum is to continue to expand and host similarly-styled events elsewhere in the world. To date we will be hosting a second edition in Singapore in the upcoming months as well as explore other Southeast Asian destinations. Should anyone have any ideas we encourage them to get in touch.