Art Basel will refund galleries slated to participate in its now canceled Hong Kong fair this year 75% of the booth fee, according to a fair spokesperson. MCH Group, Art Basel’s parent company, announced its decision to call off the fair yesterday, February 6, due to diverse concerns related to the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
A few weeks ago, prior to the cancellation of the fair, Art Basel organizers had reportedly refused participating galleries’ request for a 50% reduction in booth fees, describing the concession as “financially untenable.” But that was when galleries were still primarily concerned about the political situation in Hong Kong, and not the threat of the new coronavirus, which is the only reason Art Basel has invoked for its cancellation so far.In 2018, Art Basel introduced a sliding scale pricing model to offset disproportionately high booth costs for smaller galleries in all its fairs. The new model was first applied in its flagship fair in Basel, Switzerland in 2019. According to an Art Basel spokesperson, booth fees in the main Galleries sector at the Hong Kong show planned for this year ranged from $32,600 to $124,800. Applying the fair’s recently announced refund policy of 75% of the booth cost, a gallery committed to the most expensive stand in the fair will be refunded $93,600 of the $124,800 already paid.
Another fair running parallel to Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Central, also announced its cancellation of this year’s show, programmed for March 18-22. A press release issued today said Art Central’s decision came “in order to protect the health and safety of all participants.”
Art Central has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for more information regarding booth fees and refunds for exhibitors.
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