After a successful eight years in Regent Park, London, founders of Frieze Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover announced in 2011 that they would be venturing across the pond to launch another art fair of the same namesake on Randall’s Island in New York City. The announcement of this move got the NYC art scene buzzing with questions, opinions and predictions on the impact it would have on the city and on the art world. One year later in May 2012, Frieze New York was born and well received; it was an immense success for Sharp and Slotover, for NYC and for the art world. Now five years later Frieze New York is more relevant than ever and still growing.
Initially, the announcement brought some trepidations, the idea of another big art fair in NYC and its destination being Randall’s Island was a concern, art critic Jerry Saltz chimed in his thoughts, “New Yorkers usually don’t cross water for culture, unless it’s an ocean… ‘How could an art fair feel good?’ I wondered. The two-piered New York Armory Show has become drudgy, crowded, comfortably numb. By now I simply assumed that a big art fair in New York wasn’t possible” (Vulture 2012). The sentiment was: would this fair be just another Armory? Additionally, with the new edition of Frieze NY, the question remained, how would it impact the the other fairs? “I think NADA, the ADAA, and Independent will be fine,” said art advisor Lisa Schiff. “The Armory, I’m not sure. Maybe just the modern section will stick around. Next year will be an interesting one, that’s for sure” (Artinfo May 2012). With a new player entering the art fair scene, this would mean potentially less sales for the existing art fairs.
Within Frieze NY’s second year, NYC saw the true economic impact of the fair: The Frieze Effect. “The estimated amount that visitors and exhibitors in Frieze NY 2013 spent in New York’s shops, restaurants and other activities was $69.1M. And the estimated amount that Frieze NY 2013 exhibitors spent in ancillary industries and support services directly related to their attendance at the fair was $13.3M” (The Observer). The economic impact was unquestioned, Sharp & Slotover proved to be successful with their new venture.
In its fifth year, Frieze NY has solidified itself a cultural fixture to the city’s landscape similar to Tribeca Film Festival and New York Fashion Week. With the recent investment from William Morris Endeavor-IMG (WME-IMG) last month into Frieze; the future looks even brighter for Sharp and Slotover who will continue to manage Frieze. Ms. Sharp added, “The deal is another example of the convergence in the worlds of media, sport, entertainment and events. Mr Slotover said the deal would see WME-IMG lend Frieze its expertise in ‘how digital can support live events’ and in creating content… We will be able to create better value not only for our galleries but also for our sponsors and their broader business goals” (Financial Times). This clearly shows that Sharp & Slotover are on the right trajectory with Frieze NY and with what is next for Frieze.
When we asked the founders what is next for Frieze, “If the galleries and collectors we’ve worked with over the years tell us they want another fair,” says Slotover, “we’d certainly think about it.”
And Sharp simply adds, “Never say never …”
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