In 2021, fairs around the world began to resume operating as normal, with major ones staged in New York, London, Paris, and Miami. But on Thursday, the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) said that its 2022 Dutch edition, scheduled to run March 12–20 in Maastricht, would not go on as planned.
Citing “mounting concerns around the global volatility of Covid-19” amid the threat of the Omicron variant, the fair said it was exploring hosting the fair at a later time in 2022. According to a press release, the decision was made by the fair’s board of trustees and executive committee, which includes 13 dealers.
In a statement, TEFAF chairman Hidde van Seggelen said, “This was a difficult, but necessary decision, guided by three key concerns: first is the unpredictable nature of Covid-19; second, the significant financial risk to both TEFAF and our exhibitors should the fair be cancelled in the lead up to March; and third is, as always, the health and safety of the TEFAF community, our exhibitors, visitors, sponsors, and partners.”
The news came a day after Artnet News published an article stating that at least 30 exhibitors had withdrawn from the fair upon receiving a reminder email about the fair’s cancelation policy. That policy, which had been in place since exhibitor applications were released in July, stated that if TEFAF Maastricht were canceled after December 15, the fair would keep exhibitor deposits totaling €7,500 ($8,400) to “cover administrative and fair planning and production costs” and return all other money.
On Tuesday, in a statement sent to ARTnews, the fair’s organizers said, “We are aware of a small group of exhibitors who have publicly vocalized that TEFAF should refund all monies that have been paid to the foundation to date. As a nonprofit organization TEFAF simply isn’t in a position to underwrite all its losses.” TEFAF also said that over 200 exhibitors had “offered their deposits voluntarily to ensure the long term health of the foundation.”
TEFAF is the first major fair to change its plans for 2022. Still currently scheduled for the first few months of the year are FOG Design + Art in San Francisco in January, ZONA Maco in Mexico City and Frieze Los Angeles in February, and ARCO Madrid in March. TEFAF said that its New York fair, scheduled for May, was so far unaffected by the decision to postpone the Dutch iteration.