CONTRIBUTOR / Tony Karman
PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR
EXPO CHICAGO / Arts & Culture
Trust is at the core of every transaction and serves as the foundation for a solid reputation. For EXPO CHICAGO, which convenes 140 art galleries from 17 countries and 43 cities for 5 days, building and maintaining relationships among stakeholders has been key to its revitalization and ongoing success.
BUMPER: Expo Chicago: A Trust Deficit
Trust is really the core of any transaction. You begin to build it with an individual as a possible business partner. You use trust as the foundation with which you build your reputation.
Expo Chicago is an international art fair of contemporary and modern art.
It convenes upwards of 140 international art galleries from 17-plus countries and 43 international cities. It convenes them for five days in Chicago at a venue that was international or renowned for hosting an art fair for many years and that’s Navy Pier.
The fair had slid in many ways to a place where the art world or collectors just didn’t bother to come.
What we had to do is enter back in at the highest of level, but prove and convince the world that we mattered right away.
BUMPER: Building and Utilizing Interpersonal Trust
Those relationships that you begin in your early career done right, if you are trustworthy and full of integrity in both words, deeds and actions, will carry for many years of whatever endeavors you’re doing.
And I think that that trust, that integrity, that work ethic and ethic in the way you do business allows success to be achieved.
Trust and honesty is how I was able to build a foundation even to raise money for the International Art Fair. Major business leaders, collectors and civic leaders in Chicago that I approached to back the fair before it was the fair gave me their support financial support not necessarily because they wanted to make money, because the deal is not a multi-million-dollar deal.
If one looks at a transaction, how can I win all the time? I don’t think the long-term win is really possible, because after all, if both or several involved in that transaction aren’t finding a benefit from that, then there is no long-term future. There is no win.
And trust really is at the core, because after all, you can’t do that for the long-term if you’re not both trustworthy or have presented that opportunity in a sphere of what I think is a trustworthy and open way.
BUMPER: Winning Trust through Institutional Support
I don’t think Expo Chicago would be without the trust or the support of not only the business community, the civic community, the cultural community and, most importantly, the artists and the galleries and the cultural community of Chicago.
We know we were proud to have partnered with Jeanne Gang to design the fair. That was a statement of trust. That was a statement to the international art world that we were going to build an international art fair with the imprimatur and the stamp of a great internationally renowned architect.
I can spin or we can spin all we spin, but if the testimonial is coming from a trustworthy individual respected in their field, whether it’s a critic or a curator or a collector or an art dealer an influential art dealer, if they’re saying this is special or this is good or this is important, that sets a whole other layer of foundation for in my case an international art fair’s success.
I think that it’s a multi-cultural world, and clearly this is an international art fair that allows for 17-18 countries in 45 to 50 international cities to represent works from around the world. I would say building trust within that is no different than building trust as we’ve talked about individual to individual.
Trust in relationships, trust in partnerships, trust in vision, trust in those that were backing this fair and trust in the statements of support from our civic leaders, our mayor and our city departments, the collective of all of that allowed all of us working on Expo Chicago to present that first fair in a way that we knew was going to make a statement to the world and has continued to allow us to refine it, to grow it and to make it again a impossible fair to miss.