Friday - 24 October 2014

Mayfair galleries woo public with open weekend

27 May 2014Written by Ivan Macquisten

A major new summer event aimed at attracting members of the public through the doors of Mayfair and St James’s galleries will launch on July 5 and 6.

Brown's London Art Weekend will see 80 galleries open their doors and give talks in a bid to show the variety and diversity that their businesses contribute to the local area.

The initiative, sponsored by Brown's, has emerged from the convocation of around 30 dealers who have been gathering each week this year at the Albemarle Street hotel to discuss the rent rise and development crisis that has blighted the area over the past couple of years.

They have already been taking it in turns to run Brown's Saturday Art Tours, where individual dealers have led small parties of paying clients on visits to hand-picked galleries in the area to see what's on offer, followed by lunch at Hix, the restaurant at the hotel.

Public Awareness

John Martin, whose own Albemarle Street gallery is affected by the changes, said: "It's all about raising public awareness about what an incredibly useful contribution the galleries make to the local culture and economy."

He is one of a number of dealers including Johnny Messum at the heart of the initiative and had nothing but praise for all the other local businesses that had lent their support, among them London Art Week, Sotheby's and even Rathbone's, the wealth managers.

The dealers are hoping to capitalise on what Mr Martin called the "amazing vision" of developing Special Policy Areas in recognition of the unique character of places such as Mayfair, where art galleries and auction houses cluster to create a local "brand".

"Raising public awareness by getting them through the door is the first step to turning them into collectors," he said.

"What Westminster have been doing could well be a blueprint for other local authorities in helping art and antiques come alive again. This idea has come together over the past three weeks and has galvanised everyone in the area."

 

• ATG will welcome Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster Council, at the Olympia fair at 12 noon on June 10 to talk about the SPA initiative and to take questions on the subject from the audience.

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