For the members of BADA, high-quality London fairs matter. They afford an opportunity, not just to sell objects, but in the age of remote purchasing to connect with fellow dealers and buyers face-to-face, in smart surroundings.
However, because of changing market forces, simply carrying on with the BADA Fair isn’t viable. There is a danger that the fair would go down the route of other traditional fairs, which stayed the same and perished.
We’ve seen huge changes in the trade, with a new generation of buyers that need to be served, alongside current clients. We may be selling heritage and tradition, but it is important to modernise to stay in business and embrace a wider demographic.
To BADA members and exhibitors nervous of the fair’s future, let’s remember that Thomas Woodham-Smith and Harry van der Hoorn have good reputations in fair organising and their motivations for taking on the BADA fair seem sound.
Yes, I was surprised to hear the deal had been done, without wider member consultation.
Another understandable concern is that, with the introduction of modern design and more contemporary art, there’s a danger that The Open Art Fair will become like any other white-walled, contemporary art fair.
I urge fellow BADA members to remember we have the power to ensure this doesn’t happen – through BADA’s continued rigorous vetting of The Open Art Fair and of course, by taking a stand. It’s down to us exhibitors to ensure the fair retains that blend of traditional with the modern.
Finally, I love the idea that BADA will invest more in the bada.org website as a selling portal. Lord knows we complain enough about the expense of subscribing to the more commercially-driven dealer platforms.
If bada.org becomes a real, transactional alternative to these portals – use of bada.org is free to members, don’t forget – what a compelling proposition BADA membership will be to the next generation of dealers, on whom the future of our beloved trade depends.
Dealer, BADA member and former chairman of Christie’s South Kensington