Galleries and cafes: state-wide research

Cafe Artiste next to Muswellbrook Arts Centre

Recently Jacqui Hemsley, Group Leader Cultural Services at Albury City Council, contacted M&G NSW for help with gathering responses to a survey designed to determine the best management structure for a proposed café, to be associated with Albury’s imminent gallery redevelopment.

This article provides a summary of the results of that survey. As such it offers a snapshot of the relationship between galleries and cafés state-wide. Twenty one surveys were completed and the summary also includes additional comments from four gallery directors.

Summary of main findings

  • Most galleries had a cafe/restaurant within their facility for over 6 years.
  • 3 out of 4 cafes/restaurants were either leased or freehold.
  • Using existing networks and word of mouth was the main avenue for sourcing interest to lease/license their café (over 70%), with Council undertaking a tender and EOI process.
  • Over 50% of respondents indicated that it was difficult to source suitable first round applicants, with the main issue being the ‘selling’ of an unknown entity (with potential lessees being unsure of profitability) and weak market profile.
  • Perceptions of Council, the gallery and clientele were considered less of an issue.
  • Gallery management was more than likely involved in the design of the café/restaurant.
  • Most either had a liquor licence for the gallery held in conjunction with the café/restaurant lessee or, used the lessee licence.
  • Most were generally pleased with the conditions and working relationship with the café/restaurant.
  • Galleries that had attendances over 80,000 were more inclined to self-manage the café/restaurant rather than lease and were less inclined to consider that Council had received the best return on investment.
  • There was minimal difference in operations between galleries that had attendances over 80,000 per year and those under 40,000 except for capital investment.
  •  Galleries with higher attendances were more inclined to finance the fit out of the café/restaurant.
  • About 50% of those surveyed considered that the café/restaurant, met the needs of locals rather than visitors, improved gallery profile and attendances, and worked well with the gallery team.
  • Less than 30% considered the café/restaurant as a profitable operation and that the menu changed often enough.


Thanks to Jacqui Hemsley for making this information available for us to share.



Previous PostSydney moderns in a collection near you
Next PostDon’t hide your face, Ms Rolfe