News that the Royal Academy in Piccadilly have sold their 6 Burlington Gardens premises in Mayfair to contemporary gallery Haunch of Venison, which is owned by Christie’s, means a shake-up on the capital’s fairs scene in general.
Burlington Gardens became a favoured venue due to its Mayfair location, mainly for flat art, but whereas a picture fair can be accommodated without massive difficulties, finding a new West End venue for a sizeable antiques fair has proved a daunting task which has defeated some seasoned organisers.
The third and last LAPADA Objects of Desire was held with 69 dealers at Burlington Gardens from May 8 to 11. A spokesman for LAPADA said last week: “We have yet to receive official notification from the RA but it seems likely that Burlington Gardens will not be available to us next year.”
It is not just likely, it is definite, as the LAPADA exhibitors at the recent fair knew. While the RA have not announced their deal with any great fanfare, the fact has been confirmed to the organisers of the London Original Print Fair who move back to their traditional home in the main Burlington House galleries next April. The print fair moved to Burlington Gardens from the RA in 2004.
In fact, LAPADA officials have been researching Mayfair venues since January and have come up with what seems an inspired choice. This is a marquee in Berkeley Square right in the heart of Mayfair.
Admittedly, this would be an expensive option, so Sarah Percy-Davis, chief executive of LAPADA, is looking for additional revenue schemes to keep the fair affordable for members.
Speaking exclusively to ATG last week she explained that Berkeley Square could cost £100,000, more than the £80,000 rent for Burlington Gardens.
But she explained: “We would have a custom-built marquee which is so visible and does present really good opportunities like advertising on the marquee. And we are trying to find other revenue schemes. The fair could also be a bit bigger with up to 80 exhibitors depending on size of stands.”
The chief executive feels a Berkeley Square fair would be a most effective tool for LAPADA and will attract high-quality dealers. She suggested even that top dealers might join the association to get into the fair.
A slot has been reserved for next May but Sarah Percy-Davis is also toying with moving the dates to September. She feels the chances of a Berkeley Square fair are “fairly high” and negotiations with with Westminster City Council should be completed and a decision made in four to six weeks.
By David Moss