Why is Art Toronto Open on Mondays?

Canadian Art
Oct 28, 2013 5:01PM

In 1979, the Boomtown Rats had a hit with the song that crooned, “Tell me why I don’t like Mondays.”

Today, in 2013, that tune may come to mind for some Art Toronto dealers.

As Stephen Bulger, president of Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery, told Canadian Art when asked for ways he would like to see Art Toronto grow or change: “I can’t say that I enjoy the show running on Monday. I’m happy to call it a day on Sunday night.”

His sentiment has been echoed by other dealers in informal conversations.

Bulger is a veteran of other fairs like AIPAD New York and ParisPhoto, both of which open on Wednesday evenings and are open to the public Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Those schedules are in keeping with the leading international fairs like Frieze London, Art Basel Miami, the Armory Show, and FIAC, which all open on Wednesday evenings and then run Thursday to Sunday.

Art Toronto fair director and founder Linel Rebenchuk explains that the decision to run on Mondays comes down to three factors.

The first factor has to do with the fact that Art Toronto needs a certain amount of time—specifically 48 hours—to set up its infrastructure prior to dealers coming in to unload their artworks.

“It takes 8 hours just to unload our trucks,” Rebenchuk says.

The second factor is that at this time of year, he says, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is not available to be booked for consecutive weekends. So the earliest they can get it in is around 1 a.m. on Monday mornings. Setup all day Monday and Tuesday means dealers can only get in for their install on Wednesday and (if late) Thursday, which leads to the Thursday-morning media preview slot and Thursday-evening gala opening.

“Maybe if we ran the fair in the summer,” a lower-demand time for convention centre bookings, “we could get in earlier,” Rebenchuk says. “But not in the March-April-May period or September-October-November.”

The third factor, Rebenchuk says, has to do with the results of Art Toronto exhibitor surveys which show that international exhibitors in particular are not willing to travel for a fair which is only three days in length.

“No one wants three days,” Rebenchuk says.

So, if the fair opens on a Thursday evening, the fair has to run Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday to provide those four days of sales opportunity.

This is part of Canadian Art's Art Toronto coverage. To view all our stories on the fair, visit canadianart.ca/arttoronto, and visit us at Booth 940 for subscription specials.

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