Not a phrase you hear a lot in an industry where the stereotype is of jet setting and high living.

But veteran art dealers report that some big things have changed to make it more difficult, and less profitable, to run an art gallery—even in what’s been, at least for the past few years, a booming market for Contemporary art. Basic expenses are way up, from the proliferation of far-flung art fairs (a slew begin this week in Miami) and rising rent, to climbing insurance and storage costs. A lot else is different, too: Of-the-moment installation and performance pieces are pricier to mount and to move than paintings. Global price databases for art let buyers comparison shop, and bargain. Partnerships with international galleries are increasingly common, and give dealers much less control over an artist’s pricing than they used to have.