How to find a balance in the management of art galleries: operational and strategic


In your job of managing an art gallery, much of your day requires you to spend time with collectors and artists, hanging exhibits, packing pieces sold for shipping, updating your website and your e-commerce sites and to maintain social media. I’m sure that’s not all you do on any given day, either.

Like many of my clients, you might feel like you don’t have the right balance in your gallery management duties between operational and strategic management. Let’s look at the difference.

Operational management of the gallery

The operational management of the gallery involves all the daily tasks which include things like:

  • sales and marketing implementation
  • customer and artist communication
  • Bookkeeping account
  • repair planning
  • suspended shows, etc.

Effective operational gallery management generally requires constant adjustments to improve efficiency, quality control and customer satisfaction.

Managing the operations of an art gallery takes a long time each week, and you might even multitask. Sometimes these kinds of tasks seem easier than strategic tasks. As a result, sometimes it is too easy to get lost in it and always stay very busy without building the business to be stronger and more agile.

Strategic management of an art gallery business

There is often less time devoted to the strategic management of the gallery. It requires understanding all of the competitive and market forces in your corner of the art world. Strategic gallery management also means understanding what the gallery’s strengths and weaknesses are and how they shape the future direction of the business.

Strategic business decisions for an art gallery include things like:

  • develop or edit your gallery program, your business model, your list of artists,
  • create staff positions
  • create comprehensive sales and marketing plans
  • consider opportunities for expansion, etc.

Strategic annual business plans for galleries should be created to be flexible to adapt to change as needed and to keep you motivated and focused on your goals.

Do more Manage the gallery with less stress

There are the things you do in your gallery: daily tasks, but give yourself enough time to your gallery business? How much strategic time do you devote each day, week and month to the long-term growth and development of your business?

Let’s talk about how to find the right balance in art gallery management responsibilities, so that you can get more done with less stress.

The gallery industry has an unconscious tendency to stick with what it knows best, often day-to-day tasks. These are just enough to keep your business running. Yet if you focus your efforts solely on operational management, your art gallery business will end up being overwhelmed by the competition.

I also hear from many clients that they have a vision for their gallery business but don’t know how to best make it happen.

It could leave you exhausted, frustrated, and stagnant.

Working on equally important business development tasks as part of strategic management can be uncomfortable – I totally understand that and have thought about it myself sometimes. But ignoring these areas can bank you bankruptcy, especially in this current art market where things move at breakneck speed and collectors’ expectations are rising every year.

Find a new way to approach time management

Positive change may depend on your ability as a gallery manager to re-focus on growing your business. But first, you need to find a balance in your time management. In doing so, you will make room for a more strategic reflection on the management of the activity of the gallery.

In the process, you can also inspire your artists, staff, and art collectors to take a more active role in your gallery. Success will depend on committing to the necessary tasks and giving yourself the time to do them.

First step to balancing your focus

Here are some suggestions on how to start finding the right balance for more efficient art gallery management.

  1. A great place to start is to identify the daily operational tasks that you spend the most time on each week, which can prevent you from working on more strategic projects. Determine how often they really need to be done. Can some similar tasks be grouped together to make the process easier? For example, Marketing Monday, Financial Friday, etc.
  2. Grouping similar tasks together is a nifty trick to help keep you in the best and most focused frame of mind. Try it out to finish them faster and more efficiently.
  3. Look for ways to accomplish these tasks more efficiently with better technology. New software and tools are constantly coming out. Check out Gallery Fuel’s Alternative Fuel page, where I list some of my favorites.
  4. Determine if delegating particular tasks might free up your time and what opportunities this new time offers.

The next logical step is to outline the tasks that are crucial to your gallery’s future growth and that are not grabbing your attention. This is where we take care of devoting more time and balance to the strategic management of the gallery.

Think about what goals and aspirations you have for the gallery in 3 to 5 years. How are you going to get there? Through the strategic management of the gallery’s activity.

Be specific and divide these strategic tasks into categories: marketing, finance, artist development, sales, etc. Then prioritize them and schedule recurring days and blocks of time to work on those tasks.

Another trick that people often use is to keep their calendars and to-do lists together. This way you can clearly see how to schedule time for focused work.

Having a written annual plan is also helpful. It’s good to get all of your goals and ideas out of your head and jot them down where you can refer to them if you lose your focus and need to regroup. I have put a template together in a spreadsheet if you want to use it to plan and schedule operational and strategic tasks and workflows. You can get it here.

Now you have some clarity on how to allocate your time to find a better balance between operational and strategic management of the gallery.

Develop skills for better time management

Are you constantly withdrawing from a task to help an untrained gallery employee? Do you know who a lot of the time you Actually spending on emails, phone calls from customers, chatty salespeople or staff, or social media scrolling? Be honest….

Do you find that you are spending too much time on things that don’t have a significant impact on your gallery’s progress towards your goals in the grand scheme of things?

Try some of these techniques to help you develop better time management skills.

  • Delegate as much as you can. If you don’t have staff who can take the load off you, train them. If staff run out of steam, use outside help from contractors or virtual assistance.
  • Don’t overload yourself with too many dates or try to attend too many art fairs. Learn to say no.
  • Dedicate an hour a day for strategic work (Yes, every day)
  • Write up the workflows or steps involved in repetitive tasks, such as creating the gallery newsletter, preparing for a show, or following up on sales leads. The exercise of writing down each step (in an ideal world) can often help you see ways to make these processes more efficient. These tasks outlined in writing also make it easier to delegate to someone else and maintain quality.
  • Use downtime productively (by reading Gallery Fuel, taking online courses, even cleaning your inbox)
  • Try a new time management tool, like app blockers or time trackers. Sometimes it helps to turn off tools like your email and phone. There are so many tools coming out all the time designed to help you focus and manage your time.
  • Bulk tasks, such as creating all of your social media posts for the month in one sitting. Use automation to schedule newsletters and other emails.
  • Pick a new professional skill that would make you better at any area of ​​your job and master it.
  • Evaluate your internal processes to determine more efficient ways to accomplish them.

Up to the point

It is difficult to balance the obligations of the operational management of the gallery and the growth and development of your art gallery with excellent strategic management.

Small businesses must continually look to the future. It requires work to the company as well as in there daily. Running an art gallery is no different.

If you don’t have balance, your gallery can’t grow. You also won’t be able to serve your artists, staff, or art collectors very well. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose track of where the business is going.

Make a real commitment to managing your time with a balance between operational and strategic management of the gallery. You will succeed in developing your gallery for the future.

And hey – You might find yourself in love with your job again.

The goal of Gallery Fuel is to help develop the best business skills for art gallery owners to support their clients and artists. The emphasis is on traditional and digital marketing, sales strategies and gallery management. Visit to find out more and become a member.


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