Art fairs

October Frieze fairs in London will be smaller, reconfigured and may be combined—if they can go ahead, organisers say

The fair group sent a letter to exhibitors guaranteeing full refunds if its autumn events are also forced to cancel due to virus concerns

Frieze London 2019. Photo by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze

Grappling with ongoing uncertainty surrounding large-scale events in the UK, Frieze has sent a letter to its exhibitors saying that, if it can go ahead with its Frieze London and Frieze Masters fairs in early October, they will have to be smaller, with fewer visitors and may be combined into one tent for the first time. The organisers have asked galleries to confirm whether they would like to exhibit at the two fairs by next Friday 26 June, but stresses that it will refund 100% of stand rental fees to every gallery that commits, if it is forced to cancel.

In the letter sent today, signed by Frieze Fairs' global director Victoria Siddall, Frieze Masters artistic director Nathan Clements-Gillespie, Frieze Masters deputy director Romilly Stebbings, Frieze London artistic director Eva Langret and Frieze London deputy director Kristell Chade, Frieze says: "Significant changes will need to be made to the fairs to reflect the times we are in. Therefore, before we ask you to re-commit to the fairs, we wanted to outline what these measures will most likely entail."

First, the fairs will be smaller and Frieze says it is "exploring ways to rethink the space, including the possibility that Frieze London and Frieze Masters are brought together under one roof on the south side of Regents' Park (the Frieze London site)."

The fair will also "introduce new measures to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved in the fairs" including, but not limited to "thermal scanners at the entrances, digital passes, and reimagined public areas such as cafes and bathrooms." The layout of the fairs will also be changed, with additional entrances and exits.

Fewer visitors will be permitted to avoid crowds and Frieze will "prioritise visitors invited by our exhibitors and will use timed entry to ensure we are able to welcome the same number of First Entry VIP guests as we did last year."

The letter adds: "We also continue to plan for Frieze Week and are fortunate to have an amazing community of galleries here in London that we will celebrate across the city. Whilst we know there will be a more local focus on London and Europe this year, Frieze Week has developed an unparalleled reach that brings energy and attention to the city’s artists, galleries and museums—this year will be no exception."