Art Basel Is Wooing Social Media Influencers to Its Hong Kong Show—But Asking Them to Follow Unusually Strict Rules

The guidelines for accreditation include a ban on live streaming and warning that anyone found to be disruptive will be removed from the fair floor.

A visitor takes a photo of a painting at Art Basel Hong Kong in May 2021. Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

In addition to VIPs, journalists, and artists, the much sought-after Art Basel accreditation now accommodates a new category of art world figure: social media influencers.

The criteria for how one can get accredited remain unclear, but influencers who want to attend the fair’s upcoming Hong Kong edition later this month have been asked to follow a set of guidelines. Rules range from including photo credits and tags on posts, to the use of hashtags and a list of do’s and don’ts, Artnet News has learned.

“Social media has become part of the broader media landscape over the last decade, and we are aware that is an important platform for our galleries and artists,” an Art Basel spokesperson told Artnet News via email, adding that the processes are aligned across all the shows run by the Swiss fair organizer. “As we have seen an increase in interest and accreditation requests from influencers over the past year, we started integrating influencers into our existing media accreditation process, reviewing them on a case-by-case basis.”

Art Basel also confirmed the existence of “simple guidelines,” which were created to “assist influencers in familiarizing themselves with the Art Basel show and onsite filming requirements to ensure a smooth fair experience for all participants.”

Art Basel in Hong Kong. © Art Basel

Art Basel in Hong Kong. Photo: © Art Basel.

According to communication seen by Artnet News, the Influencers cleared to attend Art Basel in Hong Kong, running from May 25 to 29, have been asked to follow rules that include some media standard practices, such as properly crediting the galleries and the artists that appear in their posts. The guidelines also offered tips on where to find the necessary information: “Simply look at the signs posted at the top corner of each booth for gallery names and the wall texts next to each work for artist names.”

The fair is also asking influencers to tag @artbasel on their social media posts as well as to add a series of show hashtags in English, as well as in traditional and simplified Chinese. Photo-taking influencers are also told to be mindful of the privacy of fairgoers, and to avoid filming others without their permission. Influencers are not allowed to live stream from the fair floor.

The accreditation, which will be vetted, is also limited to the individual influencer only and is non-transferrable. The pass “does not extend to additional crew or assistants,” the guidelines state. “Anyone found in violation of these rules or being disruptive can be removed from the show floor at any time.”

The guidelines may seem strict, but the incorporation of social media influencers in the accreditation process is seen as a huge step forward in recognizing the value of social media content creators, said Robin Cembalest, the veteran arts journalist who has more than 52,000 followers on Instagram and teaches classes in social media strategy.

I’m thrilled that people who create social media content—whether they are identified as ‘influencers’ or not—are receiving access privileges that were formerly reserved to the press,” Cembalest said.

Still, how one is defined as an influencer in the art world remains opaque.

“Are you judging by follower numbers, real-world influence, or both?” Cembalest added. “In the art world, the people who are the most influential might not have that many followers, and the criteria for ‘influencer status’ in the art world wouldn’t be the same ones used in other market sectors.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.