Future Fair hopes to use a new profit-sharing model to alleviate risk for dealers.

Christy Kuesel
Aug 26, 2019 4:10PM, via ARTnews

Photo by Markus Spiske.

By giving participating galleries a percentage of its profits, a new art fair hopes to create a more sustainable model for smaller galleries. Future Fair, founded by Rachel Mijares Fick and Rebeca Laliberte, will run next year during Frieze New York. The participating galleries, a maximum of 36, will equally split 35 percent of the fair’s profits, which they can either take in cash, use to sponsor another gallery’s participation in the future, or get a credit toward the fair next year.

The two founders are both art world insiders—Laliberte is a New York–based art adviser who previously worked in London galleries, while Mijares Fick helped produce the Volta and Frieze art fairs. Of the reasons for opening the fair, Mijares Fick told ArtNews:

We think that we need more optionality in the landscape that reflects the diversity of how galleries operate. [. . .] We really want to keep pushing that needle further as to what our industry can be doing in terms of equitability and transparency with the galleries and also the artists.

Each participant in the fair will pay between $6,500 and $10,900 to split a room, ranging from 300 to 700 square feet, with another gallery. Mijares Fick and Laliberte conceived the idea of Future Fair during a time when more and more small to midsize galleries are struggling to stay open, and many galleries are questioning whether attending fairs is cost-effective.

The number of art fairs themselves is ballooning; artnet reported that the number of fairs worldwide increased from 55 in 2005 to over 180 in 2014. Some of these new fairs are trying to revolutionize the traditional art fair structure. For example, Object & Thing, a new art and design fair launched in May, charged participating galleries a sales commission rather than an initial rental fee for a booth.

The profit-sharing aspect of the program will run for the first four years of the art fair, which also plans to make money through ticket sales and sponsorships. Laliberte and Mijares Fick are personally inviting galleries to participate with the help of a 13-member advisory board. The list of participants will be released early next year.

Christy Kuesel