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Bringing in the big guns

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Auckland Art Fair is taking flight – and enlisting some expert help to get there. But first, a little backstory.

Ten years ago this month, the Auckland Art Fair was little more than a twinkle in the eye of local gallerist Deborah White, who thought it might be a good idea for Auckland to have its own art fair and managed to convince me this was a good plan. How hard could it be?

Since that initial vision, Deborah and I have collaborated on 5 art fairs. And over these 10 years we have: hosted 40,000 visitors, erected 12 kilometres of white walls, served 3500 bottles of wine, and helped generate sales of over $10M for artists and galleries.

We didn’t get this far without the great support we have had from Auckland council, funding agencies, from our long standing corporate partners, and critically from the many individuals in the art community on which this whole top spins.

We’ve also had the backing of our founding board, the NZ Contemporary Art Trust, a charitable entity whose voluntary board is comprised of respected members of Auckland’s art community and business sector. All of them are the strongest possible advocates for the visual arts.

As you know, last year we changed the fair’s dates in order to better align with other events on the international art calendar. The downtime gave us the opportunity to take stock of where we are, where we need to be, and how we can get there.

We reached the conclusion that it was going to be very difficult to achieve what we wanted to within our existing structure. The question was: having reached the end of the beginning, how do we go on with the story?

And then fate intervened, in the form of North Port Events, an award-winning, NZ-owned event company, whose CEO, Dona White, approached us saying: “Hey – we love your fair and we want to help you grow it.” After just a few discussions, it quickly became apparent this was the answer.

Consistent with art fair models around the globe, North Port Events will bring their 20+ years of professional event management, expertise, and resources to ensure the smooth and efficient delivery of our next fair and steer Auckland Art Fair toward a strong and sustainable future.

The fair will remain the same, values driven, intimate, hands-on event. I will remain the event’s Director and, as ever, I will rely on the support and art-specific knowledge of my advisory board. The only changes you can expect to see will be improvements including:

– An expanded and enhanced VIP and collector programme

– Pop-up dining by some of Auckland’s leading chefs

– Alliances with influential establishments such as Seafarers Club and brands like Moet Hennessey

– Programming partnerships with local and national institutions

– A layout revamp by leading NZ designer

We look forward to sharing details with you over the coming months. Meantime, thanks for your dedication so far. I salute you all.

Jennifer Buckley


* Image: women pilots leaving their B-17, "Pistol Packin' Mama", at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP training to ferry B-17 aircraft. Left to right are Frances Green, Marget Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn. Courtesy of wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_B-17_Flying_Fortress

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