By Yelena Kharitonova
Caravan Cultura CreArt Agency, Academy and Consultancy
ENCATC in Maastricht at TEFAF! The story to be continued…
Today art fairs are considered to contribute significantly to the cultural, societal & economic development wealth of Europe and beyond. The art fairs have major impact on the development of cultural participation and cultural tourism to the host communities. Before the pandemic and we hope after it as well. The local organisers and community are now using the historical, heritage and cultural themes to develop their own events during annual art fairs to attract visitors and create cultural image in the host cities by holding special (side) events in their own local community settings.
The desire for art fairs is not specifically designed to address the needs for any particular group. The hosting of events are often developed because of the tourism and economic opportunities addition to social and cultural benefits. Many researchers have contested that local communities plays a vital role in the development of tourism through art fairs, such as TEFAF and “TEFAF & the City“ brand new initiative, organized in the city of Maastricht, The Netharlands by local partners.
Events such as TEFAF have the potential to generate a vast amount of cultural tourism when they cater to out of-region visitors, grants, or sponsorships, of direct or indirect intent. The local government now supports and promotes events as part of their strategies for economic development, local positive brand-building and cultural tourism. The events such as art fairs in turn are seen as an important tool for attracting visitors and building positive image within different communities.
As far as art fairs’ tourism is concerned, the roles and responsibilities of local governments as well as of the private sector and society in general have significantly changed over the last decade. The situation has been changed where the state had the key responsibility for tourism development and promotion to a world where the public sector is obliged to reinvent itself by relinquishing of its traditional responsibilities and activities in favour of both provincial/ state and local authorities. This indicates the growing influence on the behaviour of governments and business in general for the development of event and tourism industries. This suggests that art fairs’s impact on the host population and stakeholders in a number of ways. These factors are primarily concerned with social and cultural, physical and environmental, political, economic and territorial, and can be both positive and negative.
ENCATC‘s Working Group’s meetings in Maastricht in 2019-2020 related and reflected to the role of art fairs in the creation of opportunities for local community-orientated events, which contrast with tourist orientated events and which have tenuous links with local communities. Moreover, we explored and argued that community-based events and art fairs provide an opportunity for the celebration of local identity and community empowerment, creating cultural tourism for the local area. Also, how do art fairs contribute to more diverse, just and inclusive societies and co-create positive societal change? How do they monitor their own footprint? What are the most effective ways to communicate about these impacts? What are art markets’ latest developments and their role for art and cultural impacts of art fairs? Can art fairs be European “Cultural Diplomats“ or “Ambassadors“ and present a positive image of Europe for the outside world? Also starting to think not only about profit related topics, but images.
Together in an unconventional, engaging and inspiring Working Group’s session with our ENCATC members and invited participants and our local partners in Maastricht, we learned, explored, co-created, discussed/evaluated the art and culture impacts of art fairs from a critical and holistic perspective. TEFAF representatives are invited to join us and make their own contribution. Our program offered keynote speaches, debates and dialogue! When descussing cultural impact, TEFAF (and its venue) was presented as interesting case and living example on how impacts collide.
It would be a unique opportunity to meet peers, to share knowledge and to debate on the impact of arts and culture on people’s lives, communities, cities, regions, Europe and our neibourhoods, but… On March 11th, 2020 the World Health Organisation announced the Pandemic Emergency. ENCATC had to postpone (and cancel our event in Maastricht), hoping we could come back to it afterwards.
On September 11th, 2020 ENCATC had organized yet another members’s online meeting, which I initiated and moderated eventualy. It was a fantastic ”relief” of the energy, accomulated during the previous six months of lockdown. We had a chance to commemorate the September 11th tragedy, which happened in New York, as well as to draw parallels between the situations in the Big Apple then and the TEFAF (and or ENCATC’s program in March 2020) cancelation, by inviting intenational artistic experts to comment and share theirs opinion about the situations from theirs perspectives.
I was honored to moderate this online discussion with the excellent group on international experts on the topic of the “Impact of COVID-19 on the Art World and Art Markets“: Nanne Dekking (Founder and CEO of Artory, also the former Chairman of Board of TEFAF0, Agniya Mirgorodskaya (Founding Director of the Riga Biennale and Foundation), Maria von Vlodrop (MvVO Art Show Founder). Our speakers had shared with much passion and empathy their experiences during the turbulent and extraordinary times, they gave us tips and advice on how to procceed (according to them) with art collectors and art lovers in order to keep in mind and safeguard their art properties.
I firmly belief that we, as a network, will continue with this topic during the upcoming TEFAF-2021.
17 february 2021, Maastricht, The Netherlands
Questions for further discussion
- How Art Fairs/Markets are disrupted by the worldwide impact of the COVID-19 virus?
- How Art Fairs are online engaged? What are the predictions for blended (online/offline) forms of engagement for the future to come?
- What are the best possible solutions for Art Fairs to overcome disruptions caused by potential physical distancing for the future?
- What’s the impact of delaying/canceling of Art Fairs for local situations worldwide?
Yelena Kharitonova is ENCATC’s member and special projects representative in Maastricht. She is founder of Caravan Cultura CreArt Agency, Academy and Consultancy. Yelena has been creating educational opportunities for young international creatives and professionals in the Netherlands and Belgium. She holds MA in Culural Management, Policy and Education, as well as MA in European Public Affairs from Maastricht University, and also a BA in International Studies and Diplomacy from Washington International University, starting her interest in cultural diplomacy at Stanford University. Yelena is an initiator of a brand new platform: “Art Lovers Talks @TEFAF“. One of her latest projects was the organization of “Culture beyond the paragraphs“ in Maastricht, and other annual Dutch Design Weeks in the Netherlands. She is involved into various programs with ENCATC now.