It’s been a long time coming. Younger and smaller galleries have been on the rocks for years, suffering from the costly participation in the art fair system. But that tide may be shifting in their favor: Several prominent art fairs, including Art Basel, are now restructuring their booth pricing to accommodate galleries with different capacities.
In January of this year, the international Paris-based fair FIAC quietly rolled out a pricing change for its upcoming 2018 edition. This week, Art Basel revealed that it too is changing its pricing system for next year, and Frieze quickly introduced its own new pricing structure, which will debut at the fair’s Los Angeles chapter. Today, Germany’s Gallery Weekend Berlin adds to the chorus, announcing it is also revising its fixed price system. In each case, the fairs have introduced arrangements aimed at accommodating smaller galleries.
Most art fairs, of course, already have tiered pricing structures—the most expensive booths are usually in main gallery sections that see the most foot traffic, commanding a higher price; less expensive booths are set in less-trafficked areas. While this may be tenable for established galleries with larger coffers, the format has left out many smaller galleries that either can’t afford the cost or can’t incur the risk.
Earlier this week, Art Basel made headlines as the fair’s global director Marc Spiegler announced that, beginning in 2019, the fair will implement a progressive pricing system for booth fees, as well as other discounts, to ease the burden on young galleries. Getting underway at the flagship fair in Switzerland next year, dealers claiming larger booths in the main gallery section will pay a higher rate than those renting smaller booths. Read more