Capture (1)

The Open Art Fair which was due to run in April has been cancelled.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Organisers Thomas Woodham-Smith and Harry Van der Hoorn informed exhibitors yesterday that the event had been pulled from the calendar. It was planned to run from April 19-23. 

Woodham-Smith said in a statement: "With great regret we have to report that there is not sufficient interest from exhibitors to justify The Open Art Fair this year, in spite of many committed dealers whose enthusiasm should not be undervalued."

It was to be the second staging of the fair, which had its tumultuous first run on the cusp of the first lockdown in March 2020.  

Woodham-Smith added: "Whilst we, the organisers, were prepared to subsidise the fair in order to promote it in its infancy the amount required was too onerous."

Last week, Woodham-Smith and Van der Hoorn announced the launch of a new summer fair in the same site as Masterpiece London (which the pair also helped launch in 2010), after the flagship fair was shuttered at the beginning of the year. However, the organisers say that the creation of the new event, The London Summer Art Fair, had no bearing on the decision to cancel TOAF

TOAF has its origins in the British Antiques Dealers' Association (BADA) spring fair. In 2019 the trade body sold a majority stake in the fair (it retains a 20% stake), and TOAF was pitched as a luxurious event for BADA and non-BADA dealers. 

However, opening as UK Covid numbers began to soar, the inaugural run saw around a quarter of the dealers who had booked stands not attending, vetting scrapped and attendance low. Scheduled to run for more than a week, the fair closed after just two days. 

There followed legal disputes over stand cost payments. 

Woodham-Smith said: "We will immediately begin the process of returning to exhibitors their deposits. 

"It is a very sad day for all of us who have worked tirelessly to create this new fair, and had to deal with the impact of Covid during our launch and its aftermath.

"With a note of optimism it is our hope and intention to work with our loyal exhibitors to find them a venue at a price they can afford and at a time when they want to exhibit."