The art and antiques fair Tefaf Maastricht will now take place from 25 to 30 June (previews 24 June and 25 June until 2pm) at its usual venue, the Mecc, in the southern Netherlands. The event was originally due to take place in March but was postponed in December due to rising cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.
“When we realised we couldn’t hold the event in March, we began talking to the Mecc about what other dates might be available," says Charlotte van Leerdam, Tefaf's managing director. “Events have been shifted, then shifted again and again. So everyone is pinning their hopes on May and June then September and October—I think people are already getting worried about November."
June is already a busy art market month and the date shift puts Tefaf Maastricht only a week behind Art Basel in Switzerland (16-19 June). The proximity is not ideal, but van Leerdam says: “We share 17 exhibitors with Art Basel and our chairman of Modern and contemporary art has checked with them about the new dates. It’s actually the section [of the fair] that’s easiest to convince because they are used to doing multiple fairs."
Van Leerdam concedes "it’s quite a strange schedule for exhibitors" but "the advantage is that there’s no better place to be than in Europe in June because there’s so much going on, which is great for collectors.”
Masterpiece London (30 June-6 July), which overlaps with the end of the fair, also shares some exhibitors with Tefaf Maastricht. "It’s not ideal for them—in an ideal world we would not have had this overlap, but it’s convenient for collectors," van Leerdam says.
Exhibitors are being officially informed of the new date today. Around 285 galleries had confirmed for the original date in March—all will now be given the option of doing the June fair. "Not everyone will make it due to schedules, but we think many will,” van Leerdam says.
She adds: “All the exhibitors originally signed up for the March fair paid [a non-refundable] €7,500 which goes towards the running of the foundation. Those that decide not to do the June fair will not pay anything extra, and those that are doing it will have the €7,500 offset against their stand fee.”
The Tefaf board will have a "go, no-go date" in mid-March, to decide whether to proceed with organising the June event. "If we decide to continue, 1 April will be the opt-out date and after that [exhibitors who pull out] will have to cover their costs," van Leerdam says.
Tefaf is currently lobbying in The Hague to get some form of government aid for event cancellations due to Covid-19. If successful, it hopes to pass on some of this aid to its exhibitors. But this is “a long process” says van Leerdam.
For now, next year’s fair is anticipated to happen in March 2023 but, van Leerdam says, "we have other options which we will discuss in our next board meeting, because it’s much easier for everyone involved to plan ahead of time.”
As for health and safety requirements, these will be confirmed nearer the time but van Leerdam is firm on one thing: “If we require people to wear masks, which is very likely, we will have staff on site ensure that people do actually wear them because we’ve all been to 'mask mandated' events where people are not wearing them."