In the art world patronage is important, being patronised, not so much. Over the years New Zealand dealers and public funders, via Creative NZ, have been big supporters of the Melbourne Art Fair. And why not? When it started out it was the only game in the region, NZ was taken seriously, some sales were made and a good time was had by all. As often happens though, as the years rolled by, the Melbourne Art Fair became not so appealing. The novelty wore off, costs were high and suddenly Auckland had its own Art Fair and that did the job for most dealers. The NZAF 2011 edition was a big success in its new digs and, while there was a couple of big name Australian galleries missing, it’s a fair bet they might be back next time.
So when the Melbourne Art Fair starts offering 'selected New Zealand galleries' an "Industry Assistance Package", you have to wonder whether they've dumped their PR advisors and decided to fearlessly go it alone. Motivated apparently by "recent events and the subsequent economic downturn" in New Zealand, the Melbourne Art Fair is offering its stands for August 2012 at half price ($11,000 down from $22,000). Only this ‘bargain’ rather than being presented for what it is, a discount to try and get more New Zealand dealer support, has been offered as a 'donation'. How very thoughtful.
Image; NZ dealer awaits an approach by the Melbourne Art Fair