EduArt Experience's Barbora Půlpánová, in conversation with Laura Harris.
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
Barbora Půlpánová is founder of EduArt Experience. She has previously worked in press, media and marketing at Christie’s in London and as a reporter for Slovak Public Television. Barbora studied political science at Charles University in Prague and the University of Bremen. She is based in the Czech Republic and started her company to widen access to the Czech art market and bring expertise into the field. She speaks both English and German.
LAURA: Welcome everybody, it's the 9th of June 2021, and today I will be speaking with Barbora Půlpánová. We are going to talk to her about her business, which is EduArt Experience. We met at Christie’s Education and you were doing press, I was doing recruitment. It was really fabulous that we connected, tell me how you came to start up your own art education company, which is pretty exciting?
BARBORA: Well, first of all, thank you very much Laura for having me. I have some time to think about my days at Christie’s and it was very exciting for me, and I remember you used to sit next to me and we were discussing all our projects and it was nice and also all of those evening auctions and private views and so on. I must say It's been quiet here in the Czech Republic, mainly because of the whole Covid situation. But it is getting much better now, actually, I was at my first private view yesterday!
BARBORA: And it was quite full, so I enjoyed it very much. Well, where to start, at Christie’s, I used to be Global Press and Communications Officer, I promoted courses in London, New York and Honk Kong. And also, I was promoting Christie’s in Central and Eastern Europe. we also planned breakfast and gallery walkthroughs with my ex-colleagues coming from this region, nice events for collectors and then, I relocated back to the Czech Republic. I was thinking how, with my contacts and experience at Christie’s, help to develop the art market here in this region or what can I do to help the art market grow here.
At the same time, a lot of people ask me for advice on where to buy from for example or where to go, because they were afraid to go by themselves to a gallery, so I started functioning as a guide for them.
BARBORA: Then, I launched the EDUART Experience project which is a six-month long programme comprising of online sessions with well - respected and well-known experts from the international art market. Last week, I hosted for the first time for my ten participants and they were all very excited.
LAURA: Wow! It is quite an undertaking and I think you’ve been very modest there. To start anything from scratch is quite an undertaking, especially in the Czech Republic. To have the knowledge that you have from working in the UK and to take it back home, I just think it is fabulous and it is not something everybody would do, a lot of people would say ‘I just need another full-time job for safety, security’. Well done to you I think for launching it.
BARBORA: I started creating interesting content, like interviews with art world leaders and also opinion pieces which I put together in this magazine. Let me introduce you to my baby called EDUART.
LAURA; Lovely cover, fabulous!
BARBORA: I have a great graphic designer.
LAURA: It is very well designed, and having yourself feature as a character is very clever, so spot on. For the European art scene, are you focusing on artists that are based in that region or are they from other parts of the world as well as the Czech Republic?
BARBORA: I focus mainly on collectors coming from this region, which means also on artists, because these collectors are mainly interested in artists from their origin countries but I want to provide this scene with an international context.
BABARA: That is why I like to introduce artwork experts from the UK or worldwide to this region and also my mission is let's say to create a functioning network within the region. I also have a course with curators from Poland, Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.
LAURA: If anybody wanted a bespoke programme, do you do that as well?
BARBORA: The first programme is called EDUART Start, so you can start with us to enjoy the art world and discover everything, what it means. The other programme is called EDUART Curator, for more mature participants.
LAURA: Fabulous! that sounds great. Is there a highlight from your career so far BARBORA either from EDUART experience to set up or there is something from Christie’s you want to share with us?
BARBORA: I feel like it's been happening so far and so fast, so every day is a highlight for me to be honest. I receive great feedback on the programme. I can think of one thing actually, I started teaching the history of the art market and the basics of the art market at the university for the 3rd age. One of the students was so excited about my lecture so she painted my portrait, it was so nice.
LAURA: So wonderful!
BARBORA: So that may be my highlight. But you know all the Christie’s parties, you enjoyed it as well.
LAURA: I did, and there were so many amazing events there. I don’t think I will work anywhere again where there were so many incredible, social events, which is cool for the nature of that industry as well, for clients and also lots of visitors as well. And you know, they tried to engage with the general public as well. Every month they had the Christie’s Lates open to everyone.
What are you working on at the moment that you want to share with us, is there a particular course that you are promoting? You said you were working on content?
BARBORA: I would like to put together an art advisory board, so curators and gallerists coming from this region work closely on new programmes and also on interesting content. In September or October, I would like to offer an art market programme for art students here in the Czech Republic. There are very good art schools but they are not discussing the art market, I think it is partly because of the long era of colonialism, because someone said that the art market did not exist and that it was very low key. We still can see that it is quite underdeveloped, compared to the Western market or international market.
The new programme will look at whole ecosystem. This would be like a 3-month long programme, with mentoring sessions from the members of the advisory board, sponsored by private partners. The students do not have to pay for this, private sponsors and private companies would pay for this.
LAURA: Incredible! So, where would these students be from? Will they already be studying art subjects?
BARBORA: Or, artists at the beginning of their careers and young art professionals.
LAURA: You mentioned the history of the Czech Republic and other countries nearby, that kind of resonates with me because I feel sometimes people hear about art being very elitist and difficult to engage with. That is important to me because you are kind of dealing with the art history for the country in which you are working, it is not that you are developing a brand new art market from scratch.
The art market in the Czech Republic has already existed for a long time actually.
You're developing it, and it is not just about looking at pretty pictures on a wall. Do you think that is a good point? Do you feel an important responsibility for developing the market in which you are working and aware of the historical implications of this?
BARBORA: Well, you are right! There is still a perception of collectors as someone who is very elitist, 2% of the population; but if you look at art history at the beginning of the 20th century, you can see that a lot of collectors are people who feel a social responsibility for the culture in the country. They paid a lot of money for the launching of some of the fine arts, academia and so on. I want to remind the Czech society that my motto is that "anyone can buy art", something cheaper like silk screen paintings, or charcoal drawings. You have an original at home which you can look at, and emotionally connect with. And that is why you should buy art, not because it costs a lot of money or gives great social status.
LAURA: It's like anything in life, look if you can afford to buy a bigger house, then you would buy a bigger house, wouldn't you? And absolutely, there is a lot of fun involved, that is what we loved about the art industry, and there is a serious element to it as well.
BARBORA: It is also about discovering the art world, that is what I do with my circle of friends and of course participants. We discover it and we enjoy it. We have a glass of wine, then we talk to a curator and we talk to an artist, we go to artist studios.
The process is different, you don't have to buy a piece of art at the end of my programme but first you will enjoy it and then you'll see, you'll just get to know how the art world works and you can decide what would you like.
LAURA: I would love to do one of your courses. One of my questions is, where do you see yourself in five years? It sounds like it is going well, coming together now with EDUART experience, do you have any goals in place? Would you like to have your own space, like your own school where you will have all the lectures?
BARBORA: Generally speaking, my mission is to connect and create a well-functioning network of art professionals in Central Eastern Europe.
LAURA: Absolutely! It is just really exciting, I love the fact that you're building up your business and you are opening up the art market even more at the same time.
BARBORA: That is my mission, that's my dream, so I will do everything I can to help this market grow. I’m not saying I'm capable of everything but I will try.
LAURA: Certainly, you’ve got the passion, and you are halfway there; with passion, you can do anything. So let us know what is the website we should be looking at, if we want to find out more about what you are doing?
BARBORA: It's EDUART.com, (like education and art), and you can sign up for the monthly online magazine.
LAURA: BARBORA, it's been so lovely speaking with you today, thank you for joining me.
BARBORA: Thank you Laura for having me and next time I'll do an interview with you about art etc.
LAURA: Please do!