Start Up Art Gallery Avoided Pitfalls with Help of SCORE Mentor’s Advice
When Amy Morton was in the process of starting a new art gallery in Washington, DC, she worked with Miriam Cutler, a Washington, DC Chapter SCORE mentor, to help her develop her business plan and guide her through a maze of critical decisions. Her original plan was based on securing financing from investors and purchasing an existing building for her new gallery space to host artists’ shows. Amy and her SCORE mentor crunched the numbers in her financial projects and investigated the valuation of the real estate she was considering to conclude if purchase or lease was the most viable option for the property. SCORE also provided a consultation with a commercial real estate professional to weigh in on the prospect of purchase or lease. With the weakening economy, Amy lost the majority of her initial financing as investors were hesitant to take on risk in a down economy. This created a major shift in gears with her gallery start up plan. Amy approached her SCORE advisor with a more cost-effective alternative with a “pop-up” venue as an efficient way to meet her need for exhibition space. Miriam again investigated the numbers, the pros and cons of a short term lease, and signed off on it being viable. This “mobile gallery” concept led to a whole new line of business for Amy as she began to curate art shows around the city and also provided her with the data she needed to simultaneously take a brick and mortar gallery space in DC.
Pop-up projects curated by Morton Fine Art (MFA), are biannual, mobile art galleries that occupy vacant locations throughout the Washington, DC area. Each temporary project explores a different curatorial theme and introduces a new group of national and international museum quality artists. MFA has developed a following among local and national art buyers that appreciate artwork that often features a socially conscious component. While a pop-up project's location changes with each exhibition, MFA maintains an inventory of artworks from *a pop-up project at Morton Fine Art's permanent curators studio at 1781 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009.
Amy credits Miriam with a dose of reality with candid assessments of her business and financing plan while always providing encouragement and positive feedback. Her mentor’s review of the gallery venture’s opportunities and risks were instrumental in getting the business off the ground.
Miriam Cutler, SCORE Volunteer Mentor