Sales, attendance both down at Melbourne Art Fair - Art Collector

Ian Burns's commissioned artwork Clouds at the Melbourne Art Fair vernissage.

7 August 2012 | This year’s Melbourne Art Fair closed on Sunday with sales and attendance figures both down on the 2010 fair.

Participating galleries reported artwork sales of $8 million, though a press release issued by fair organisers said this result was “higher than many expected in these tough economic times for the art sector”.

The 2010 edition of the fair achieved $11 million in artwork sales, down from the $12.1 achieved in 2008 at the start of the global financial crisis.

Attendance figures dropped only slightly, however, down to 27,000 from the 30,000 recorded in 2010 and 2008, perhaps a result of a quieter vernissage and Thursday evening, which are traditionally peak times. Dealer James Makin also said he believed the high weekend traffic brought more sales compared to 2010.

Melbourne Art Fair chairman Ken Fehily remained optimistic about the results, commenting: “I truly consider the 2012 fair to be the best ever. The commercial gallery sector can be rightly proud.”

Aside from the tough economic conditions this year, the fair also faced a change of management, with Bronwyn Johnson departing late last year, replaced by co-directors Laetitia Prunetti and Emilly-Rose Davis, along with a change at board level with Ken Fehily stepping in to take over from Bill Nuttall.

In a new deal, the next edition of the fair in 2014 will be managed by Single Market Events.

Jane O'Sullivan

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