Art Basel to Relax Application Process for 2021 Hong Kong Fair Because of Pandemic

Maximilíano Durón

BY MAXIMILÍANO DURÓN

June 23, 2020 3:25pm

Art Basel Hong Kong’s 2019 edition.VINCENT YU/AP/SHUTTERSTOCK

With the virtual iteration of its marquee Swiss fair now live, the organizers of Art Basel announced changes for the application process to one of its upcoming fairs, Art Basel Hong Kong. That fair’s 2020 edition was canceled in February because of the coronavirus pandemic and replaced with an online edition.

In a letter sent today announcing that the application portal had reopened, Art Basel Hong Kong’s top brass informed exhibitors who were set to participate in the fair’s 2020 edition that they would receive automatic readmission if they applied with the same or similar proposals submitted for this year. New proposals would be given priority. The fair also announced that it would launch a new curated section, called Dialogues, in which two galleries could collaboratively show the work of two artists from different continents.

“As Art Basel’s team is keenly aware that the Covid-19 crisis continues to pose problems to the art world, we aim to stand by you in supporting the gallery ecosystem as we all navigate together through uncharted terrain,” the letter, which was signed by Art Basel’s global director Marc Spiegler, its Asia director Adeline Ooi, and its gallery relations head for Asia Angelle Siyang-Le, reads. “Therefore, we have made several adaptations to the application process this year, including a temporarily more flexible approach to admission criteria.”

Among the most significant of these flexibility measures is that Art Basel will temporarily lift the requirement that galleries have permanent spaces, as long as the enterprise in question continues to operate programmatically. Galleries will also receive a 15 percent discount for their booths, which is being off-set by the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.

One concern from exhibitors as talk of postponing and canceling the Hong Kong fair first began was what would become of the fees they had already paid. The fair had previously informed exhibitors that it would roll over payments that had been received for the 2020 fair to its 2021 participation. In its new letter, Art Basel said it had revised its payment terms, requiring only a 25 percent down payment for a gallery’s booth, as opposed to a single payment of the total fees.

The letter concluded, “We recognize that it is not a time for business as usual for any of us, and strongly believe that the adaptations detailed above will offer you support and greater flexibility in participating in our show. We are also continuously monitoring the situation in Hong Kong together with external experts and our local cultural community. Please know that we will do our utmost in working alongside you through these challenging times, are fully available to answer any questions and ready to discuss the best options for your gallery.”

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