TEFAF has announced a 10-year partnership effectively tying the organisation’s flagship fair to the city of Maastricht until 2028. Photo: Loraine Bodewes.

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A 10-year agreement reached with the local authorities – the Limburg provincial government and the City of Maastricht – hopes to make the Dutch city a more accessible and attractive destination for international art buyers.

There have been fears that the 30-year-old fair has lost some of its buzz amid growing competition and a change in collecting tastes.

The deal includes pledges to extend and refurbish the MECC Maastricht congress centre by 2020 at a cost of €30m, improvements to the Maastricht Aachen airport by 2019 and extra four and five-star hotel rooms.

‘Reacting to criticism’

In the wake of this year’s fair there were calls to move the fair to a different European city – such as Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam or Paris – and CEO Patrick van Maris told ATG that the board “reacted” to criticisms and now plans to “do everything it can” to address any shortcomings. “We will continue to make changes, from floorplans to events,” he said.

Founded in 1988, the fair is worth an estimated €20m a year to the local economy, with the next edition to take place on March 10-18. Exhibitors cautiously welcomed the initiative.

Rare books dealer Daniel Crouch said: “The province of Limburg obviously took TEFAF’s mutterings about moving seriously, and have addressed any concerns with some major commitments. They are to be commended for this.”

But he said for TEFAF to “stay relevant and at the top of its game” it must keeping changing to keep “fresh and alive”.

Dealer Bob Haboldt, who has shown at Maastricht since its foundation, told ATG: “This is a city that does not want to lose TEFAF but I am concerned the proposals are not achievable. I am a believer in the fair but we are still trying to find the ideal model.”