Installation view of Basilea, 2018. Photo: Art Basel.

Art Basel Introduces New Pricing Structure to Ease Burden on Smaller Galleries

Art Basel has announced that for its 2019 edition it will inaugurate a new sliding-scale pricing structure for exhibitors. Under the new system, smaller galleries will pay 8 percent less per square meter than larger galleries, which will see a 9 percent increase in the cost to secure booths in the fair’s central Galleries section. The fair will also reduce the fees for its Statements and Feature booths.

The new pricing model is a departure from Art Basel’s policy of raising its rate for each square meter by 5 percent annually. This structure is also expected to be implemented for the 2019 edition of Art Basel’s Miami Beach fair and the 2020 edition of its Hong Kong fair.

“Given the current financial pressures faced by many galleries, especially smaller and mid-sized galleries today, we believe that this model is fairer, and will provide some relief to smaller galleries, while not overburdening galleries that have a larger stand,” Art Basel said in a press statement issued today.

The changes come on the heels of the New Art Dealers Alliance’s announcement last month that it would end its New York fair in order to refocus its resources on galleries and also followed a panel discussion held at the New York Times conference in Berlin in April, during which mega gallerist David Zwirner declared that he was willing to pay more for his booth at art fairs to subsidize costs for smaller dealers.

Art Basel director Marc Spiegler consulted with the founders and partners of around ten major galleries, including David Zwirner, Thaddaeus Ropac, Sprüth Magers, and Hauser & Wirth, before rolling out the changes. “Everyone saw it as a step in the right direction,” Spiegler said.

According to Art Basel, two thirds of exhibitors will pay less for their booths in 2019 than they did in 2018, and around 80 percent of galleries will pay less now that the fair has put its flat-rate increase of 5 percent on hold. It also stated that the dealers expected to pay the most under the new system will shell out no more than an additional $10,000.

While other expenses, such as shipping and staffing costs, were not addressed by the fair’s new model, Art Basel said they may be considered in the future.