The Chinese art market: risk and reward

May, 09, 2017
  • Understand the market

  • Build a sustainable business model

  • Find the right partner

Tracy Cui, Founder and CEO of The Promise Creative Beijing Co. Ltd and expert in licensing and branding in China, explains us how to enter the Chinese art market.

Agenda asks Tracy Cui to give us an insight of her talks at Asia Link on 26 July 2017 and at Culture Business Melbourne on 28 July 2017.

What are the latest developments in the chinese art market? What does this mean for international arts organisations? 

The Chinese art industry has developed extremely rapidly during last 10 years. The central government and the local governments are giving extensive support to the industry both financially and through policy. Art fairs, design fairs as well as touring exhibitions, IP licensing, private museums and galleries are booming all over China especially in first tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and even Shenzhen. From 2005 to 2014 the growth of the so called ‘creative culture industry’ is estimated at 21.3%. The income of the cultural industry represents 3.76% of the total GDP of China.

For international arts organisations, China is definitely a market that can no longer be ignored since China is amongst the top 3 biggest buyers in the most famous auction houses. But how can arts organisations get involved in the Chinese market and how can they develop a sustainable developing model with the appropriate partner is the main challenge.


You successfully introduced the Victoria & Albert Museum in China via licensing. What is your main advice for arts organisations wishing to enter the Chinese market in terms of licensing and branding?

Indeed a good question. In terms of licensing and branding, arts organisations still need to know their core competences and the image and brand they wish to introduce to the Chinese market. The challenges and risks always exist. The first phase is a learning process, the second is the path to building trust and gaining mutual benefits from partners. Understanding the market, its speed, consumer behaviours, branding measures and means of communications are some key factors to business in the Chinese market.


In 2010, The Promise also successfully helped to set up a cooperation agreement between China and Denmark for the culture sector. What did this agreement entail and what were the challenges?  

The main challenge of this agreement was to become the bridge between both governments, building the ties between the authorities as the middle man.

We, The Promise, could clearly see the advantages this cooperation would bring to both parties. However, each government didn’t share our perspective and didn’t see the necessity of the agreement. Our deep understanding of both cultures and communication strategies helped us overcome the difficulties of the process. It took quite a long time to convince the Danish government to bring their advanced management skills, museum expertise and systematic approach to planning to China. And it was fantastic achievement that we did so successfully.