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Fees revamp brings new blood to Art Basel in Miami Beach

Over a dozen galleries will join the fair's main Galleries section for the first time

Karma gallery will be exhibiting Henni Alftan’s The Dead Sea (2017) Courtesy of the artist and Karma gallery

To encourage smaller galleries to take part, Art Basel in Miami Beach rolls out its new sliding-scale fee structure this month, resulting in over a dozen galleries joining the main Galleries section for the first time. Among them are Mexico City’s House of Gaga and Brussels’s Clearing, both graduating from the Nova sector, as well as New York’s Karma, which exhibits for the first time after years of doing Nada in Miami.

Karma’s owner Brendan Dugan features works by rising artists Nicholas Party and Alex da Corte, alongside older names such as Gertrude Abercrombie.Dugan says that dealers are at risk of losing their aritsts to big galleries if they are unable to bring their work to a wider market. Not only does this hurt smaller galleries, it restricts opportunities to experiment for emerging artists.

Booths range in size from 45 sq. m, but every square metre after that goes up in price incrementally, up to the largest stand space of 140 sq. m. First-time Galleries sector participants receive a further 20% discount for the first year and a 10% discount the following year.

“Around 70% to 80% of our clients are smaller galleries, so we’re committed to perpetuating their success,” says Art Basel’s Americas director, Noah Horowitz, adding that the discount “cuts into our earning potential”. Dugan recognises the fair is a business: “This is a capitalist world. But if we are thinking of the art market holistically, it’s not a healthy place if there is no room for risk.”

Art Basel in Miami Beach, Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami, 5-8 December