The organizers of the annual Art Basel Miami Beach fair announced Wednesday they have canceled this year’s edition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Art Week’s second-largest player, Art Miami, announced it, too, will cancel this year’s fair along with companion events CONTEXT Art and Aqua Art Miami, Artnet News reported. The NADA art fair also said its 2020 Miami edition is off.
The cancellations, though not unexpected, are the latest major jolt to what had been a flourishing art and cultural scene in Miami-Dade before the pandemic forced widespread closures in mid-March. A county survey of local cultural organizations issued this week found that financial losses from lost ticket sales and canceled fundraisers have escalated to more than $99 million, with nearly 16,000 jobs lost, since March.
In a brief statement, Art Basel officials said they had little choice given the continued uncertainty over the pandemic’s course, international travel restrictions and quarantine regulations across the country and abroad. The fair had been scheduled to take place Dec. 3-6 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
‘It is with great regret and disappointment that we announce the cancellation of our December show in Miami Beach, as we know how crucial our show is for our galleries, as well as for the greater Miami arts community and economy,” Noah Horowitz, Art Basel’s Americas director, said in the statement. “We thank everyone who shared their perspectives and insights with us over the past months and weeks and look forward to returning to Miami Beach next year to deliver a successful show.”
In place of the live Miami Beach fair, which draws tens of thousands of art collectors and art fans from around the globe, Art Basel organizers say they will host an edition of what they call Online Viewing Rooms — virtual galleries where art is sold. Art Basel has increasingly turned to the concept as the pandemic forced cancellation of its main fair in Basel, Switzerland, and a sister fair in Hong Kong earlier this year.
All galleries admitted to this year’s Art Basel will have access to the online platform, organizers said.
Like Art Miami, NADA also said it will move to an online format for gallery exhibits and programs this December.