Art Market

NADA Cancels Its New York City Fair to Shift Focus to Supporting Member Galleries

Anna Louie Sussman
Aug 8, 2018 10:00PM

Installation view of booth at NADA New York, 2018. Photo by Stephen Smith. Courtesy of NADA.

The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) announced on Wednesday that it would not hold its annual art fair during Armory Week in March 2019. Instead, it will focus on gallery programming.

NADA’s executive director Heather Hubbs said the decision was precipitated by the loss of the fair’s venue, the Skylight Clarkson Square, after the building was sold to a developer. Hubbs and her team learned they would not have the space again right after the 2018 fair ended.

“We were left without an immediate option for New York, and that forced us to rethink things,” Hubbs said. “But for now, it’s all for the better.”

The decision to not hold a fair in New York next year was reached after conversations with members and a vote by the organization’s board of directors, according to a statement released by NADA. The organization’s annual art fair in Miami will still be held at Ice Palace Studios in December, concurrent with Art Basel in Miami Beach.

Installation view of booth at NADA New York, 2016. Photo by Matt Booth for Artsy.


The New York fair’s cancellation highlights the tough real estate environment in major cities, a factor often cited by galleries as they struggle to survive.

“The real estate in New York—I think it’s pretty common knowledge that it’s just brutal,” Hubbs said. “It’s hard for the galleries, and it’s hard for nonprofits.”

NADA is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 2002 to support emerging galleries, as well as curators, artists, and other art world professionals. Since 2003, NADA has been staging fairs, first in Miami, and then in New York beginning in 2012. It has also organized pop-up exhibitions, including last month’s “Close Quarters” show on Governors Island.

The fairs have accepted applications from NADA member galleries, which number about 110, and are also open to non-members. Being a NADA member does not guarantee acceptance to the fair. One distinctive feature of NADA fairs is the wide range of booth sizes they offer, allowing for broader participation—even for project spaces, nonprofits, and galleries that only operate on the weekend.

“We have enough options that if someone really wants to be a part of it, they can find something they feel comfortable with,” Hubbs said in March.

Installation view of September Gallery’s booth at NADA New York, 2018. Photo by Stephen Smith. Courtesy of NADA.

Exhibitors at the fair in March said NADA offered a strong sense of community—in addition, of course, to the opportunity to meet collectors and sell art.

At the same time, Hubbs acknowledged that the art market is heavily saturated with fairs, and it could prove more beneficial for galleries to turn the attention of art-lovers back to their programming and physical spaces.

Hubbs said the decision to end NADA’s New York fair was also based on extensive conversations with its membership. The new approach will create programming that generates foot traffic to member galleries during the week in March when collectors are in New York for The Armory Show and its smaller satellite fairs.

But Hubbs said it was also a reminder of the role that galleries play in the city year-round.

“I’ve always kind of felt like New York was a city where you don’t even need an art fair, because it basically is an art fair all year round,” she said. “These galleries are basically providing this free cultural programming year-round…and trying to highlight that in a focused way is the general idea.”

Hubbs added that NADA is looking to expand its work to other cities, though she did not say which ones specifically. She also didn’t rule out the return of a NADA fair in New York in the future.

“The good thing about NADA is we’re nimble, and we can change and adapt,” she said.

Anna Louie Sussman