Art Basel Miami Beach markets Miami to the globe
By Scott Blake
Now a decade into the Art Basel Miami Beach phenomenon, South Florida's high-profile art show is like one of those rare products: it basically sells itself.
The show, from Dec. 1 through 4, is centered on the Miami Beach Convention Center. More than 260 art galleries from around the world are expected to take part, showcasing works by more than 2,000 artists.
For the show's organizers, MCH Swiss Exhibition Ltd., marketing the event starts at the top.
"One of the key factors is a group of active international art collectors," Marc Spiegler, one of the show's co-directors, told Miami Today from his office in Switzerland.
In the weeks and months before the show, a team from MCH goes about contacting top art collectors and museum curators around the world to give them an idea of what to expect at the show, Mr. Spiegler said.
With last year's Art Basel drawing about 46,000 people, including an estimated third of them from outside Florida, exhibitors also are aware of the show's reputation and are eager to sign on.
This year, rates for exhibit space start at $590 per square meter, Mr. Spiegler said, which equals $54.82 per square foot at the low end of the price range, higher than Miami's top annual office rents.
Now in its 10th year, the event has grown beyond Miami Beach and has created a media buzz of its own that dovetails with the main show.
Numerous peripheral events are held at art galleries in the Miami neighborhoods of Wynwood and the Design District.
Most galleries and studios in the Miami area host public events in correlation with Art Basel, with their own exhibitions of work by local artists. In addition, the local events are held before and after the official Art Basel dates to take advantage of the increased media coverage and influx of art patrons to the city.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has chipped in to market the event, partnering with the organizers to fly in a group of travel writers from abroad to cover the event, said Roland Aedo, the bureau's senior vice president of marketing.
In addition to publicizing the show, Mr. Aedo said, the idea is to expose foreign audiences to what Miami has to offer.
"We work with the writers to expand their story [about the art show] into a destination story," he added.
Beyond that, Mr. Aedo said, Art Basel, a spinoff of the original show in Switzerland, has become one of the most important art shows in North America, and it has spearheaded the growth of the arts and culture scene in Miami.
"There are people coming in for the event who are extremely affluent — some call it the Costco for billionaires," he joked. "But there are also events that are affordable or are free of charge, that give anyone a chance to see world-class art."
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