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  • May 12, 2020

September Too Soon For Sydney’s Biggest Art Fair

General view of Sydney Contemporary 2019 at Sydney

Australia’s primary international art fair, Sydney Contemporary, revealed on May 12 that it will not hold a 2020 edition as planned. Instead, the fair is already looking ahead to September 2021 for its sixth edition.

The founder and co-owner of the fair, Tim Etchells, stated, “In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, given the uncertainty surrounding public gatherings and restrictions on travel, we have made the decision that Sydney Contemporary will return in 2021.”

Sydney Contemporary was established in 2013 as a biannual fair and then held annually since 2017 at the arts space Carriageworks in the Redfern district. Complicating matters for the fair is Carriageworks’ announcement last week that it had entered voluntary administration after a dramatic loss in revenue due to program cancellations forced by the pandemic. Etchells said, “Carriageworks remains our primary choice [of venue] and we very much hope to return in 2021. We wish Carriageworks every success as they see themselves through the upcoming period.”

For the five-day event in September 2019, Sydney Contemporary hosted 95 galleries hailing from 34 countries, and was attended by more than 25,000 visitors. The best-selling edition to date, according to the fair itself, was in 2018, when sales topped AUD 21 million (USD 15.2 million). 

On March 17, the Melbourne Art Fair, originally scheduled for mid-June, was pushed back to February 2021. Numerous other fairs around the world have been canceled or postponed. The world’s biggest contemporary fair, Art Basel, has rescheduled its Swiss edition to late September, but the proposed dates are uncertain as the fair gave exhibitors an extra month, until June 1, to confirm their participation. 

HG Masters is ArtAsiaPacific’s deputy editor and deputy publisher.

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