$15,000 cap for artworks at Affordable Art Fair

Fair organiser says the $5,000 increase caters to collectors' buying appetite and lets galleries bring in a wider range of works

Artworks on display at the Affordable Art Fair last year.
Artworks on display at the Affordable Art Fair last year. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Affordable Art Fair, which has built a following in Singapore since 2010 by offering inexpensive art, will raise the price ceiling for artworks from $10,000 to $15,000, starting with its edition in November.

The move caters to the art-buying appetite of seasoned collectors who attend the fair and are willing to spend more than $10,000 on a work of art, says the fair's organiser.

The higher price cap will also allow galleries to bring in a wider range of works, including pieces by established artists that are priced above $10,000.

The bulk of the works - 75 per cent of what is available - will, however, continue to be priced below $7,500. That is a commitment the fair has made every year to ensure the works remain accessible to art buyers.

The fair is held twice every year.

From Nov 18 to 20, it will be at the F1 Pit Building with about 80 galleries, a quarter of which are newcomers to the fair.

The fair's regional managing director for Asia, Ms Camilla Hewitson, 37, says the change in price ceiling is based on its analysis of sales at the fair and feedback from participating galleries and visitors over the last two years.

She says: "Our study shows that 9 per cent of our visitors are seasoned collectors and half of them are willing to spend more than $10,000 on a work, so the $15,000 price cap is affordable in the Singapore context."

Mr Daryl Lee, 26, an assistant at the Cape of Good Hope gallery in Hill Street, which will be returning to the fair, says the higher price cap will allow the gallery to sell the works of pioneer Singapore artists such as Lim Tze Peng and Eng Siak Loy at the fair.

Ms Hewitson says the tweak in price cap is part of the fair's practice to regularly assess its relevance to the art market in the city where it operates, as well as to make sure that it "keeps the art ecosystem alive and interesting... otherwise things stagnate".

The fair, which started in London in 1999 and now operates in 10 countries, has raised the price cap on works for its fairs in Hamburg and London in the last two years to €7,500 (S$11,390) and £5,000 (S$8,930) respectively.

The price ceiling for the Singapore fair is not the highest of the 15 Affordable Art fairs held annually. The fair in Hong Kong tops the list at HK$100,000 (S$17,590).

Price caps at other fairs, for example, are US$10,000 (S$13,640) for the fair in New York and 10 million won (S$12,220) in Seoul.

Ms Hewitson says the higher price cap in Singapore does not change the fair fundamentally, which is to sell affordable art.

In Singapore, the average price of a work it sells is $2,800 and 36 per cent of buyers at the fair are first- time art buyers who are willing to spend up to $1,000 on a work.

Its core group of patrons, who make up 55 per cent of buyers at the fair, are occasional art buyers who are willing to spend up to $5,000 on a work at the fair.

Mr Chris Churcher, 50, founder of Redsea Gallery in Dempsey Road, which will be exhibiting at the November fair, says the new price ceiling will allow it to feature higher- value pieces by its stable of artists.

"However, we will continue to show artworks that have a broad appeal and a varied price range, bearing in mind this is an art fair for all," he says.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2016, with the headline '$15,000 cap for artworks at Affordable Art Fair'. Subscribe