Art Basel has introduced a sliding scale of fees for participating galleries to help ease the cost burden for smaller galleries, the fair announced in a press release on Monday. The changes will take effect next year at Art Basel’s marquis fair in Basel, Switzerland, and later in the year in its Miami Beach edition. They will be introduced at Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2020.
In recent years, small galleries have complained that the costs of participating in art fairs, especially prestigious ones such as Art Basel, have made running a gallery difficult or even unsustainable. In April, David Zwirner suggested at a conference that larger galleries should subsidize fair costs for their smaller peers, an idea that gained traction with some of his fellow “megadealers.”
Thaddaeus Ropac, who was one of around 10 dealers consulted by Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, told The Art Newspaper that Zwirner’s suggestion was “a great idea.”
“To have smaller galleries with ambitious programs pay less for their booths in relation to others is a good start,” Ropac said.
For the Swiss edition, the changes bring the price down to CHF 760 ($778) per square meter for a smaller booth of 25 square meters (269 square feet), versus CHF 905 ($927) per square meter for one of the fair’s larger booths of 124 square meters (1,335 square feet) in 2019. “Compared to 2018, the new model represents an eight percent price decrease for the smallest galleries in the fair and a nine percent increase for the largest galleries within the fair,” the release read.
The fair will also pause a standard annual fee increase of five percent to accommodate the rising costs of doing business.