Dealers make up fair’s management board

RESPECTED scientific instruments experts Arthur Middleton and Jeremy Collins have used this week’s Letters page to warn potential buyers of changes to the vetting procedures at the two Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fairs.

They allude to a particular incident at The Summer Fair in June when the specialist vetting committee of four unanimously voted a pair of globes totally unworthy of a quality fair and vetted them out.

Previously any unanimous decision was beyond appeal, but a new ruling says an exhibitor has the right of appeal, no matter what the vetting committee decided.

Following the vetting off of the globes a three-man appeals panel overruled the experts’ decision, allowing the items to remain with an altered label. The two experts who wrote to ATG consequently resigned.

In response Freya Simms, Fair Director for Clarion Events, Olympia’s owners, insists the new vetting process with an independent appeals committee makes the appeals process both transparent and fair.

The full letter and Clarion’s response are published on page 71.

Meanwhile Clarion Arts are handing over a degree of power to a new management board announced last week for the June summer fair.

The board has been formed from exhibitors at the summer fair and will make executive decisions regarding the strategic development of the event.

Clarion again emphasise their ambition of making this summer fixture the focus of the art and antiques market in June and have drafted the board to help them achieve this by deciding on such key aspects as marketing, design, vetting and even stand allocation.

Members of the summer management board are John Austin, Ted Few, Craig Finch, Erik Mullendorf, Jacqueline Simcox, Floris Van der Ven, Thomas Woodham-Smith, Jorge Welsh and Robert Young.

Olympia veteran Leslie Weller becomes honorary chairman and Kent Allen, regional managing director of Clarion Events, chairs the board.

There will be a maximun of 11 exhibitors serving for an initial two-year term but they may be reappointed. Observers may be invited by the board but only appointed members have voting rights.

Freya Simms, fair director, told ATG: “It is imperative we have the close cooperation of the trade and our exhibitors. The new board, which will have executive power to make decisions regarding the fair, will ensure that the development of the fair is in line with the needs of our customers and in tune with developments in the market.”

While Clarion remain very much in control of The Summer Fair there is no doubt that this new board is far more than just the usual advisory committee. Effectively, it gives more power to exhibitors than at any other major UK fair.

By David Moss