Art Basel Hong Kong has just announced the cancellation of their upcoming fair due to the outbreak and spread of the new coronavirus. The fair was already struggling with the uncertain political climate and student riots in the region.
The fair was scheduled to take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) from March 19 to March 21, 2020
Following the severe outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, which has killed more than 560 people and infected 28,000 in China, the fair saw no option but to pull out. The virus has recently been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. Art Basel has stated that it was a difficult choice to cancel the upcoming edition of Art Basel Hong Kong but felt it was the correct thing to do for the safety of the exhibitors and visitors. Numerous factors informed this decision, including fundamental concern for the health and safety of all those working at and attending the fair; the severe logistical challenges facing the build-out and transit of artwork to the show; and the escalating difficulties complicating international travel, all arising as a result of the outbreak of the virus.
Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel said: ‘Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak around the world. The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us. We explored every other possible option before doing so, gathering advice and perspectives from many gallerists, collectors, partners and external experts. We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the region’s cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and across the globe. Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.’
Adeline Ooi, Director Asia, Art Basel said: ‘We are deeply grateful to our exhibitors, partners, and friends all over the world, and especially in Hong Kong, who have stood by our side, lent their support, and shared insights and opinions over the past days and months. Our commitment to Asia and Hong Kong has not changed, and we look forward to the 2021 edition.’
The bill for the fair’s cancellation is expected to run into tens of millions in lost revenue and costs such as venue rental and shipping not to mention hotel and flight bookings. We are sure that the scramble for insurance claims will be ongoing for many months.
The next edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong will take place from March 25 to March 27, 2021.