Amid Uncertainty About the Future of Art Fairs, Frieze Will Rent Out Space for Year-Round Pop-Up Shows in London

The Cork Street galleries are the latest response to a trending demand for flexible exhibition spaces.

No.9 Cork Street façade. Image ©Matheson Whiteley.

In a sign of a changing art world, Frieze will use its new permanent space in London to host pop-up exhibitions from international galleries throughout the calendar year.

The art fair leased a pair of converted townhouses in December last year, and it has now revealed that they will open as a new hub for international galleries to rent out for short periods, starting in October.

The project is “a natural response to the challenges brought about by the pandemic,” Frieze London’s artistic director Eva Langret says in a statement. “With ideas around locality, physicality, and time particularly pertinent right now, the pop-up model allows for a more in-depth look at specific projects.”

Commercial galleries can now apply to use Frieze’s spaces at No.9 Cork Street, named after its ritzy Mayfair address. Visiting galleries will be able to rent out any of three gallery spaces in the Matheson Whiteley-designed complex for four-week periods. An event space on the ground floor will also be available to host talks, screenings, or gallery dinners.

The project is one of a growing number of models for flexible exhibition spaces in London. During Frieze week in October last year, galleries took over a number of storefronts on Cork Street to exhibit in lieu of an in-person art fair. Across town in South Kensington, Cromwell Place also offers exhibition space on a pop up basis.

Taking part in the initiative requires a substantial investment. The largest space is on the ground floor, and includes 840 square feet of exhibition space with a large window facing the street. For the first exhibition period, which will debut during London’s usually busy October and November season, the space will be available for £55,500 ($77,000). The two other gallery spaces on the floor above are 689 square feet and 818 square feet, and are available respectively for £39,500 ($55,000) and £46,500 ($65,000) during that first exhibition period. Prices then vary depending on the season.

Younger galleries that most recently participated in the Focus section of the Frieze fairs, or which were founded after 2006 and concentrate their programming on emerging artists, will be able apply for a 40 percent discount on the smallest of the exhibition spaces.

The hefty rental price tag is broadly in line with London’s expensive real estate costs, and the package includes quite a few perks including extensive public relations’ support for the exhibition through promotion on Frieze’s Instagram and Twitter accounts, a Facebook event, and coverage in Frieze’s online publication. It also includes free participation in the Frieze London viewing room that will accompany the planned in-person fair set for the fall, which is worth £4,900 ($6,800).

The fair and magazine is moving quickly to diversify its income streams this year. It recently announced a membership plan to mark its 30th anniversary that envelopes the magazine subscription with priority access to the fairs and other Frieze events, and also includes a new program aimed at new collectors called Frieze 91.

Commercial galleries can now apply for No.9 Cork Street with proposals for contemporary and modern art exhibitions taking place between October 2021 and June 2022, with priority given to galleries that have recently participated in Frieze art fairs. Applications are now open until March 25.

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