Parties Swirl Around Art Basel Miami Beach
By Rachel Tannenbaum
Art Basel week is known for huge, extravagant parties for big-money visitors. With celebration of Art Basel Miami Beach’s tenth birthday, spending and demand are on the rise, and some catering companies and museums credit it to a rebounding economy.
Sabdy Pacheco, client services manager at A Joy Wallace Catering Production, said she has seen more demand and larger budgets for Art Basel parties this year than in the past. The caterer has been involved in Art Basel for at least five years, Ms. Pacheco said, and although Art Basel begins Dec. 1, the company will be handling pre-Art Basel parties as early as Nov. 27.
"Parties are beginning right after Thanksgiving and we have had a lot of demand for cocktail parties and dinners," Ms. Pacheco said. "We have been swamped, which is a good thing."
The caterer can be found at the Bass Museum for a large pre-Art Basel event and at private residences and yachts during Art Basel week.
"Art Basel venues, or the galleries rather, range greatly in pricing, depending on the number or events they are doing and whether they are sponsoring the show," Ms. Pacheco said.
The large number of calls A Joy Wallace Catering Production has received for potential Art Basel parties is significant for Miami, Ms. Pacheco said, because it is shows that the community is growing.
"Budgets for Art Basel parties, even small parties of 40 people, are higher this year than we saw last year," she said. "I think the higher budgets have shown that the economy is making a turn."
The Bass Museum, which has been in partnership with Art Basel since its creation on Miami Beach, has been collaborating with Art Basel for the past six months, said Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator. The museum is near the Miami Beach Convention Center, which Ms. Cubina said will be a good way for visitors to see lots of art.
"The art fair has been an economic engine that has put a spotlight on museums and collections and has brought the art world to all doors," Ms. Cubiñá said.
Even though the economy in the art world is getting better, the economic downturn has affected everyone in all industries, even the parties and dinners that are thrown during Art Basel, she said.
"It’s a different economic time. It hasn’t been the same since 2007," Ms. Cubiñá said. "I think events are going to be more focused and conservative than in the past and that there will be smaller groups with dinner parties for less people — not such huge parties."
Ms. Cubiñá said she doesn’t think the art fair will return to the extreme seen prior to 2008.
"We are seeing different things. People are deliberate and conscious with spending, and things aren’t so over the top — that’s the tone Art Basel is moving towards."
Leann Standish, deputy director for external affairs at Miami Art Museum, said large, elegant parties like the MAM Party at the Plaza Dec.1, the MAM Ball and the MAM Crash the Ball after party, both Dec. 3, will continue to grow, with larger budgets and number of attendees. Tickets for the MAM Party on the Plaza, by invitation only, sell for $250 for MAM contemporaries or MAM members.
"MAM has now sold more tables this year than last year," said Daniella Valencia, Zakarin Martinez Public Relations. "Last year tickets were $750, while this year they start at $1,000."
Tables prices for the MAM Ball range from $10,000 to $25,000, while tickets for the Crash the Ball after party start at $100 and sell for $150 at the door. Tickets for MAM contemporaries are $75.
"Art Basel parties have gotten more expensive than they were ten years ago, largely due to the growing number of attendees each year," Ms. Standish said.
With the record attendance of 2,500 to 3,000 guests for the MAM Party at the Plaza, Ms. Standish said, MAM events give art lovers and artists the chance to bump into each other.
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