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Nov 05 2018

Art Basel Owner Pulls Out Of Art SG

by Reena Devi

MCH Group, will no longer support a number of regional art fairs, including Singapore’s Art SG, of which the Swiss conglomerate was initially an organizing partner. 

On November 2, interim MCH Group CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard announced that MCH, which owns Art Basel, will no longer be involved in Singapore’s new fair, Art SG. Additionally, the Swiss conglomerate will be selling its 25.1 percent share in Art Düsseldorf and controlling 60.3 percent stake in the India Art Fair, while its automotive show, Grand Basel, will not expand to Miami Beach in 2019, as originally planned. MCH stated that the decision to pull out of certain art fairs is part of a strategic review of its initiatives and investments intended to stabilize the company in light of the “profound transformation required to meet the fundamental changes coming about in the exhibition and event industry.” 

Tim Etchells, one of the Art SG organizers along with Angus Montgomery Arts, released an official statement in response to MCH’s exit: “Whilst we were very sorry to learn of MCH’s decision, [Angus] Montgomery Arts and Tim Etchells will be proceeding with the fair as planned with the inaugural edition at Marina Bay Sands opening on 31 October 2019.”

On November 5, Art SG officially named Magnus Renfrew, co-founder and fair director of Taipei Dangdai, as the new co-founder of the fair in a press release. Shuyin Yang, the fair director of Art Central Hong Kong—also co-founded by Tim Etchells, and Sandy Angus of Angus Montgomery Arts—was announced as the fair director of Art SG. 

Despite these appointments, MCH’s departure could further intensify the crisis of confidence afflicting the Singaporean art fair scene. Art Stage Singapore—which cut 47 galleries from its lineup this year—witnessed an exodus of staff from its organizing team in October, according to a source close to the fair, in spite of the recent, ostensibly positive news that the fair will present a renewed focus on Singapore art in its 2019 edition. The Affordable Art Fair went from two to a single edition per year while the Singapore Contemporary Art Show shuttered in early 2018 before its third edition.

Art Stage Singapore’s shift to more local-centric works is most likely a direct response to its competition, the new SEA Focus, a fair showcasing galleries from the region at Gillman Barracks, whose inaugural event will open on January 24, 2019. 

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