SML x ArtTactic Salary Report: Preliminary Findings

Employers remain positive towards hiring this year, despite tougher art market conditions


Tougher conditions likely to remain in place for another year.


Global economic and geopolitical headwinds triggered weaker global art market sales in 2023, with global art market sales down 4%[1]. Public auction sales saw an even stronger decline of 19%[2].


In a recent survey of art world employers conducted by ArtTactic and SML | Sophie Macpherson Ltd. between January and February 2024:


  • 21% stated they expect to see further deterioration in the market and on a wider scale over the coming 12 months
  • 58% expressed a neutral outlook, anticipating stability in the short-term
  • 21% were hopeful for improvement


Despite prevailing caution and uncertainty in the face of challenging market conditions, this has not translated into any drastic changes in the workforce.


Employment outlook remains neutral-to-positive this year.


Of those surveyed:


  • 43% expect no change in team sizes this year


In fact:


  • 38% shared intentions to increase their staff count by 1-10%
  • 13% signalled the possibility of surpassing 10% growth with new hires


These findings resonate with SML’s observations on the volume of roles advertised in Q1 2024 which remained consistent with the levels observed at the start of 2023.


Hiring activity at the top of the year suggests employers continue to look for staff particularly in areas such as administration, operations, communication and sales.


Job listings captured since January show healthy demand from galleries, followed, despite weaker sales, by auction houses. Administration, operations, communications and sales opportunities continue to be the most prolific postings across all business types. Alongside a spike in activity from artist studios, vacancies requiring expertise in production have also stood out.


Headline responses to our employer survey highlighted:


  • 52% felt relatively confident in their ability to attract qualified candidates to their organisation in the next 12 months.
  • 22% were very confident in this endeavour.
  • 32% have found hiring a challenge, stating it feels increasingly “competitive and expensive.”

The experiences of the latter third reflect a job market that has, post-pandemic, shifted in favour of highly skilled candidates and employees, with compensation playing a crucial role in attraction and retention. As we approach the end of Q2, it remains uncertain whether market conditions will rebalance. However, clarity on remuneration—a key bargaining chip—will be essential for employers seeking to hire and for professionals looking to advance within the commercial art market.




These findings are based on the SML x ArtTactic initial “Employer – Art Market Salary Survey”, open to global art market employers during February and March 2024. The 62 employer responses, primarily from the United States and United Kingdom, were combined with SML’s internal records of client searches and publicly advertised roles from 2023 until now.


This information, alongside further insights gathered through the “Employee – Art Market Salary Survey” will inform the 2025 SML x ArtTactic Art Market Salary report, a follow on from the SML Art Market Salary Report 2023.


[1] The Art Basel & UBS Art Market Report 2024

[2] ArtTactic RawFacts Auction Review 2023