The Art Cologne Fair Is Slashing Booth Prices by a Third After Receiving a Subsidy From the German Government

Germany's support for the arts continues to make all other governments look bad.

Visitors arrive at the Art Cologne exhibition preview at Koelnmesse in Cologne, Germany. Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images.

Participants in the Art Cologne fair in Germany will receive a significant discount on their stand fees this year.

The fair, which is set to take place November 17 to 21, is passing on to exhibitors 100 percent of the funding it received from the German government as part of a pandemic aid program known as New Start for Culture. That means each of the 150 participants (including those from other countries) will receive a discount of 34 percent on their booths this year.

Art Cologne’s fair next month will be its first in-person event since April 2019. It previously postponed its usual springtime edition this year as a result of lockdown and travel restrictions. The upcoming fair will include 150 participants from 20 countries, including Thaddaeus Ropac, Christine König, and Pearl Lam; German galleries include Berlin stalwarts Spruth Magers and Nagel Draxler. There’s also a vibrant section of emerging dealers, such as LC Queisser from Tbilisi, Georgia, and Efredemis, from Berlin.

“This New Start funding program has been really fantastic and it has really helped the galleries,” said Art Cologne director Daniel Hug. “Though this funding was designated for the fair sector, we thought that supporting galleries was the best way to use it.”

“Anything helps—it is a time of uncertainty,” Hug added.

Art Basel, which closed in September, also offered a way for dealers to mitigate the financial risks of attending the fair via a $1.1 million “solidarity fund.” Galleries could apply for discounts after the fair and refunds are expected by the end of this month.

When asked about giving funding to foreign dealers, Hug said that it would unfair to do otherwise. “It would be counterproductive to exclude them,” he said. “All galleries should be treated equally, even if they are not from here.”

The event’s sister fair, Cologne Art and Design, which runs concurrently, will also pass on its grant to exhibitors. Both fairs are managed by the trade fair company Koelnmesse.

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