A previous LAPADA Art & Antiques Fair in Berkeley Square. 

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However, a significant rise in costs was cited by the LAPADA board as the reason for scrapping of this year’s event.

According to CEO Freya Simms, exhibitors would now need to pay a huge £900 per square metre of stand space for the show to break even.

She said: “I’ve been to every one of our suppliers from energy to plywood and costs have gone up in every case. It’s beyond inflation – it’s a combination of inf lation, post-Brexit and post-pandemic costs. The cost of parking, insurance and stand building has gone up. Just building the toilets would cost 60% more than at our last fair.”

For many years the LAPADA event was one of two major trade association events in London, with the BADA Fair taking place in the spring. Both are now doubtful.

The latter was sold and rebranded as The Open Art Fair for 2020. However, after its dramatic closure at the start of the first lockdown, it was subject to a series of legal disputes over stand payments.

Appetite remains

With many dealers now comfortable trading online, the question is whether such fairs would attract the requisite number of exhibitors.

According to Simms, however, there is still an appetite for these events. LAPADA included a survey with the announcement of its cancellation to gauge interest in other LAPADA-organised events. “We haven’t had full results yet, but from what we can tell so far there is a desire for a LAPADA fair – and certainly a trade association fair – in London,” she said.

While the association is currently between fair directors (former fair manager Sophie Wood is now director of the Chelsea Antiques Fair) Simms said there was “capacity” to plan and run a fair. She previously ran the Art & Antiques Fair Olympia and other team members have hands-on fair experience.

As LAPADA has tenancy in perpetuity of the Berkely square space, a return to the former site is not out of the question.

In the meantime, the trade body is pursuing new ways of helping members bring their stock to the market. It has planned to take part in London Craft Week (May 9-15) and increase its profile with The Game Fair (July 29-31), which it first partnered with last year.

LAPADA previously shared its marquee with PAD London, which confirmed that it will run from October 10-16 and told ATG that the “cancellation of the LAPADA fair will not impact on the fair taking place in Berkeley Square”.