To which cities and which fairs MCH will expand its portfolio remains to be seen. Fazzone could only confirm that MCH is in conversation with SME London and Angus Montgomery, which currently operate London’s Art16, India Art Fair, Photo Shanghai, and ArtInternational Istanbul, among other events. The group’s principals Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus were co-founders of ART HK, making this a natural place for MCH to begin its foray into the regional art fair landscape.
But the potential opportunity is significant. Each art fair entering the MCH umbrella will retain an autonomous team that is located in the city or region in which it takes place, owing to the specificities and nuances of operating across countries and cultures. (This is no doubt something learned from recent changes at Art Basel, which over the past two years has created a more robust, region-specific management structure for its fairs.) But, while Fazzone declined to share specific cross-fair initiatives they might put in place, he did indicate that “there is the potential for fairs to share back-[office] services.” He added, “As we expand the portfolio there could also be the potential to apply economies of scale with regard to other services and infrastructure.”
For galleries servicing clients around the globe, this is perhaps the biggest foreseeable win. One could imagine a future fair landscape, taking cues from the tech sector, in which participation in a given number of fairs on multiple continents could be purchased via annual subscription at a savings to exhibitors. Among other potential service offerings, a major conglomerate such as MCH could also leverage economies of scale to provide bulk shipping and insurance of unsold artworks from one fair within their network to the next, at reduced rates. Art fairs make up one of the largest sources of revenue for galleries, but also one of the largest expenditures. So, any effort to tip the risk-return quotient in galleries’ favor will be a boon to the health of the industry as a whole.