To encourage galleries, Art Basel in Hong Kong relaxes application criteria for 2021 fair

Galleries no longer required to have a physical space, down payments cut from 100% to 25% of stand fees and automatic re-admittance for 2020 ABHK exhibitors

Exhibitors due to take part in the cancelled Art Basel in Hong Kong this year will be automatically readmitted, provided it is with a similar presentation © Art Basel

Exhibitors due to take part in the cancelled Art Basel in Hong Kong this year will be automatically readmitted, provided it is with a similar presentation © Art Basel

Art Basel has temporarily relaxed the application process and reduce down payments for its Hong Kong fair (ABHK) to encourage and enable more galleries to take part in the event scheduled for March 2021.

The more flexible terms for 2021, the applications for which open today, were outlined in a letter to exhibitors due to take part in the cancelled 2020 ABHK fair by Art Basel's global director Marc Spiegler, Asia director Adeline Ooi and Angelle Siyang-Le, the regional head of gallery relations Asia.

“We are keenly aware that the Covid-19 crisis continues to bring unprecedented challenges to the art world and beyond, including for galleries and artists alike," Spiegler tells The Art Newspaper. "So we worked with the Hong Kong Selection Committee on these adjustments which offer our galleries much needed support and greater flexibility in terms of their participations at the 2021 show.”

Importantly, galleries are now only required to make a down payment of 25% of their stand rental fee in advance, rather than make a single payment for the entire amount as was previously the case. Application fees from 2020 will also be rolled over, if applying for the same sector of the fair. The 25% of fees already paid by galleries for the 2020 show will also be carried over to 2021 but, the letter says, "we recognise that you may decide not to participate" in which case, "the 25% of fees may alternatively be rolled over into next year’s booth fees in Basel or Miami Beach."

A one-off 15% discount will be applied to all booth rental fees in the Galleries, Insights and Dialogues sectors (or 30% discount for first-time Galleries exhibitors previously in Discoveries) thanks to an initiative by the Hong Kong Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to support the exhibition industry.

In an attempt to encourage smaller galleries—and perhaps make allowances for those who have given up their premises through the Covid-19 crisis—ABHK will also temporarily abolish the requirement to have a permanent space, "provided the gallery continues to stage shows for its program". Furthermore, the criteria for the minimum number of exhibitions a gallery must hold per year has also been relaxed—but again only temporarily.

Exhibitors in the Galleries sector will automatically be readmitted for 2020 applicants (providing its with the same or similar proposal) as will those in the Insights and Discoveries sectors, so long as it is with the same artist(s). Those 2020 exhibitors applying with a new proposal, the letter says, will "still benefit from a prioritised review and admission during the selection process."

It is by no means certain that ABHK will be able to go ahead next March and the letter concludes that Art Basel is "continuously monitoring the situation in Hong Kong together with external experts and our local cultural community."